The Air Force’s analysis of alternatives on how to recapitalize the E-8C JSTARS fleet specifically ruled out a variant of the Navy’s new P-8 Poseidon patrol jet, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz Tuesday. “The solution for JSTARS is probably not the P-8 for us,” said Schwartz during an address at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. The Air Force doesn’t have enough money for a “new-start successor to the E-3 [AWACS] and E-8,” said Schwartz. He noted that the service would improve the JSTARS sensor, but “we’re not going to re-engine” the E-8Cs and can’t tolerate a fleet with mixed engines. The AOA found that “the more attractive option is a business-class aircraft with cheek sensors that operates at 40,000 feet-plus, and at much less flying-hour cost,” said Schwartz. That’s “probably the right solution set,” but unaffordable right now, he said. Boeing has been pushing the P-8 to the Air Force, claiming that the service could buy a whole new fleet of aircraft with a better radar for the price of re-engining JSTARS aircraft.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.