An Air Force Joint STARS ground-surveillance aircraft deployed to Southwest Asia has incurred structural damage, the Daily Report has learned. In fact, one informed source characterized this damage as “major.” We don’t know the details, as the Air Force is careful about what it is releasing at this time since a safety board is investigating the incident. Air Forces Central spokesman Maj. John Elolf did confirm that something happened, saying, the Joint STARS “was damaged recently while supporting operations in the region.” He said there were no injuries to the aircrew, but did not release additional information. USAF’s Joint STARS fleet includes 17 operational aircraft which are some of the hardest working assets in Southwest Asia and critical for tracking moving ground targets and supporting ground combat operations. These aircraft, first used in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, are based on refurbished Boeing 707-300 airframes that are considered to be structurally quite sound.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.