To afford next-gen combat aircraft, the US Air Force will make cuts to ISR inventory

To afford next-gen combat aircraft, the US Air Force will make cuts to ISR inventory – Link

Source: Defense News

Article Headlines
  • As the U.S. Air Force restructures its aircraft inventory to compete with China, the service is taking calculated risks in its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft portfolio.
  • In its fiscal 2022 budget request, the Air Force proposed mothballing four of its 16 E-8 JSTARS aircraft, which are used for ground surveillance and targeting, as well as 20 Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 surveillance drones.
  • And while the service doesn’t plan to divest any of its General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drones used for collecting intelligence and attacking targets, it does plan to lower the number of MQ-9 patrols in FY22 as the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan.
  • The service plans to drop from 60 combat lines to 56 in FY22, according to Air Force spokeswoman Rose Riley.
  • However, it will retain all MQ-9 aircraft — which number in excess of 300 air vehicles — and the manpower associated with MQ-9 crews will stay at current levels, Nahom said.
  • Meanwhile, the remaining Block 40 Global Hawks will be “very critical” to the Air Force over the next six to eight years, to fill a gap conducting ground surveillance as aging E-8C JSTARS aircraft become less reliable, he said.
  • The Air Force intends to field a“family of systems” to replace some of its legacy ISR capabilities, Nahom said, but he declined to reveal further information in an unclassified setting.
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