No Money, No Jovial

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.