US Air Force ISR: defeating ISIS, upgrading aircraft


An E-8C JSTARS takes off from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, on a mission in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Airman Amanda Bodony/US Air National Guard

THE DEFEAT of the ISIS insurgents in Iraq and Syria has increased the importance of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in ongoing coalition air operations. In 2016, the US Air Force flew 131,000 ISR sorties. In 2018, with the remaining ISIS forces dispersed or escaping to safe areas rather than being concentrated to hold terrain, it may require a smaller but more sustained effort against them. ISIS, while an elusive and adaptive opponent, had minimal capabilities against aircraft carrying out ISR – or any other – missions.

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