The task of keeping the Air Force’s critical E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft relevant over the next several years as the service implements its Block 40/45 hardware and software upgrade just got a whole lot harder. The office maintaining the E-3’s 1970s-vintage Jovial computer code just put up an out-of-business sign, citing “lack of funding.” All would be well if the Air Force could speed up the upgrade, but an Air Combat Command official says the 40/45 funding profile is “very cumbersome.” In test now, the program enters limited-rate production in 2009 and full-rate in 2012, but it would be “another nine to 10 years” before full fielding, says John Shelton, an ACC E-3 program official. And, such a long profile almost certainly leads to rising costs. The real problem, of course, is the Pentagon decision to curtail the AWACS replacement.
In his final keynote address before retiring as Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, Roger A. Towberman reflected on the progress of the Space Force and the growth still ahead at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference on Sept. 12, 2023. Watch the video or read the transcript.