As the United States Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, Senators Johnny Isakson (R) and David Perdue (R) have offered two amendments to the legislation in support of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS). Both Senators want to ensure that it is maintained as a national defense priority as the Air Force’s only active duty JSTARS wing is the 461st Air Control Wing stationed at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia.
Senators Isakson and Perdue signed a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter last year requesting the Department of Defense prioritize the JSTARS system in their fiscal year 2017 defense budget request; however, the fiscal year 2017 defense budget request does not prevent the running out of materials to maintain the JSTARS wing and bring on a replacement program quickly enough.
On the issue, Senator Isakson said:
“The Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System platform is the best thing our U.S. military has in its arsenal for the coordination of battle management and intelligence capabilities to equip our warfighters in combat and continues to prevail in today’s Global War on Terrorism… If we’re going to continue to be the preeminent force to maintain peace and civility as a world leader, we must have the best intelligence in the world. We’re committed to continuing our support for maintaining the existing fleet of aircraft while urging the Department of Defense to expedite the process for acquiring the new platform for a JSTARS replacement.”
Senator Perdue stated:
“Team JSTARS is a vital battlefield management and intelligence tool that must remain a priority…The fleet, and the women and men who manage and maintain the fleet, are a key component in our war on terror and deterring Chinese and Russian aggression, as well as our counter-drug efforts in this hemisphere. Given the global security crisis we are facing today, we cannot afford to delay upgrading important military assets. These amendments instruct the Pentagon to act swiftly to ensure this critical platform stays in theater. Our combatant commanders demand it, and our troops on the ground depend on it.”
The first amendment, Amendment 4102, would make sure that the JSTARS fleet would remain operational until the new fleet is at Full Operation Capacity. Amendment 4103, the second proposed amendment, would require the Department of Defense to make JSTARS replacement a rapid acquisition program which would eliminate the capabilities gap between the end of the service life for the existing JSTARS fleet and the replacement fleet.