The US Air Force has completed an analysis of alternatives (AOA) for its next generation ground moving target indication (GMTI) radar aircraft fleet, but top service officials say the service can't afford to implement the study's recommendations.
"The reality is there is not enough space to undertake a new start business-class ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] platform," USAF chief of staff Gen Norton Schwartz told the US Senate Armed Services Committee on 20 March. "We simply don't have the resources."
The USAF approved the study in January and forwarded it on to the US Department of Defense's office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) for review. The CAPE has to give its assent before the AOA is formally approved.
While the air force analysis calls for a mix of unmanned Northrop Grumman Block 40 RQ-4B Global Hawks and business jet-based ISR aircraft, Schwartz says the service will have to soldier on without a new manned platform. Instead, he says, the current Northrop E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) will have to do.
© US Air Force
The USAF has two major priorities that it cannot afford: the GMTI programme and acquiring a new jet trainer to replace its aged Northrop T-38 Talons.