Air Force Eyes JSTARS Recapitalization

The Air Force announced the intent to replace its fleet of E-8C JSTARS ground-surveillance aircraft with more efficient airframes based on a business jet. The goal is to achieve initial operations with the new airplanes by 2022, according to a solicitation posted at the Federal Business Opportunities website. This recapitalization effort is meant to greatly reduce the operating and sustainment costs of the current JSTARS fleet, states the document, issued in late January. The Air Force has not yet publicly disclosed that it has the funding in place for this project. The solicitation was a request for information from industry on designing the successor platform’s battle management command and control element. Air Force officials plan to meet with industry on Feb. 10 at Hanscom AFB, Mass., to discuss ideas for the BMC2 element. Industry feedback is due by month’s end. The proposed JSTARS successor will include four main components: the airborne platform, the sensor, the BMC2 element, and the communications subsystem. (See also Replacing JSTARS.)