JSTARS, Rising a Year Later

The Air Force’s proposed Fiscal 2016 budget continues funding development of a replacement for the E-8C JSTARS fleet, but slows fielding of the follow-on aircraft by approximately a year, according to a service budget overview. The service is looking to replace the aging E-8C with a more economical ground surveillance, command and control platform, based on a business-class airframe. Original plans called for engineering, manufacture, and development phase to begin in 2017, and initial operational capability to be met by 2022. The FY16 proposal tweaks the timeline to address integration risks earlier in the program, but pushes IOC to 2023, according to the document. Plans call for defraying program cost by phasing out the E-8 fleet between FY25 and FY26. The Air Force already has retired the E-8C integration testbed to cut costs.