Senators Isakson, Perdue Fight To Make JSTARS A National Defense Priority

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have offered two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to ensure that the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) is maintained as a national defense priority.

“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,” said Senator Isakson. “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.”

“Team JSTARS is a vital battlefield management and intelligence tool that must remain a priority,” said Senator Perdue. “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.”

Specifically, Amendment 4102 would authorize continued support for the current JSTARS fleet to ensure capability and presence until the new fleet is at Full Operational Capacity. To eliminate a swiftly approaching capabilities gap between the end of service life of the existing fleet and the replacement fleet, the senators offered Amendment 4103, which would require the Department of Defense to make JSTARS replacement a rapid acquisition program. A faster replacement of JSTARS will help ensure the safety of American troops in harm’s way.  

Last year, Senators Isakson and Perdue led a bipartisan letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter requesting that funding for JSTARS is prioritized in the fiscal year 2017 defense budget request. Unfortunately, the defense budget request for fiscal year 2017 would not close the pending capability gap on JSTARS and bring a replacement fleet online quickly enough.

Additionally, Senators Isakson and Perdue previously published an opinion piece in Real Clear Defense to further emphasize the importance of JSTARS and urge the Pentagon to fully support the fleet’s recapitalization.