The replacement for the US Air Force’s small, but heavily tasked leet of 16 E-8C Joint Standof Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft – converted Boeing 707s – will not be a modiied twin-engine business jet, although for many years the Air Force had told Congress that was what it wanted. For the JSTARS Recapitalization Program, proposed E-8C replacements using Boeing Business Jet (737-700), Gulfstream G550 or Bombardier E-11 airframes were put into a competition by teams led by Boeing, Lockheed Martin-Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, respectively.
The Air Force was supposed to decide on the winning competitor of the $6.9 billion 17-aircraft competition before the end of September. However, it now appears there will be no winners in this competition. The Air Force had, over the past two years, decided that the JSTARS Recapitalization Program would not proceed to the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase. On July 26, Congress, overcoming its earlier hesitation, agreed with the Air Force.
In the conference version of the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act, agreed to by both the House and Senate, Congress removed previous language that required the Air Force to award the EMD contract.