09.12.17

Senators Isakson, Perdue Fight to Protect Critical Surveillance Aircraft

Offer amendment to NDAA to ensure Georgia-based JSTARS remains ‘national defense priority’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) today introduced an amendment 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 amendment would prohibit the use of funds by the U.S. Air Force to prematurely retire the E–8 JSTARS aircraft, based out of Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, while ensuring that the Air Force maintains the entire current fleet. Additionally, the amendment requires the Department of Defense to continue with the current recapitalization of JSTARS unless the secretary of defense can certify that there will not be increased capability gaps. The Air Force has previously identified the JSTARS recapitalization as its number four acquisition priority.

“Our number one priority is ensuring that the men and women in uniform have the best available tools at their disposal when we send them into battle," said Isakson. “JSTARS provides unparalleled battle management, command and control, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. It has proven itself indispensable in our campaign to defeat ISIL, in counter-terrorism operations, and even during the current hurricane disaster responses. We will fight against any effort to prematurely retire this critical national defense asset. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment to ensure we do not leave our warfighters with a capabilities gap in future missions.”

“Make no mistake, our military needs to have cutting edge platforms and equipment to use in combat today and in the future,” said Perdue. “Today, JSTARS is our nation’s premier Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2) asset used in theater. In fact, right now, the Air Force does not have another asset that can sufficiently replace JSTARS capabilities. It's extremely concerning that the Air Force is considering ending this critical program without a plan to avoid a potential extended capability gap.”

Senators Isakson and Perdue have worked to ensure the capability and presence of the current JSTARS fleet until the new fleet is at full operational capacity. In addition, Senators Isakson and Perdue have repeatedly requested that funding for JSTARS be prioritized in Department of Defense budget requests.

Last week, Senators Isakson and Perdue sent a letter with Georgia U.S. Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), and Tom Graves (R-GA), to Defense Secretary James Mattis urging against wasting taxpayer funding by continuing to explore alternative platforms after multiple studies have recommended continued pursuit of the recapitalization efforts of the JSTARS fleet.

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Senator Perdue is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and is serving his first term in the United States Senate, where he represents Georgia on the Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Agriculture Committees.