Speaking at the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Air Power Studies in Arlington, Va., Fogleman said the Air Force should "decide if it's serious" about the big ISR aircraft in its fleet and "step up or step back."
Joint STARS, the ground moving target surveillance system based only at Robins Air Force Base, is receiving some work station updates but replacement of aging, mission-debilitating engines remains in limbo. Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz also said in late March that shifting Joint STARS from its 1950-vintage Boeing 707 platform to a modern business-class jet was too costly.
Fogleman said "somehow the Navy has figured out a way to modernize" platforms comparable to Joint STARS and the RC-135 signals intelligence system and to develop a new P-8 Poseidon.
"The ISR mission is not an Air Force birthright," the retired general reminded his audience, according to an AFA account. "The Air Force should decide if it wants to be the key player in the field or simply one of several."
He conceded that updating the Air Force systems would require more investment.
"But somebody needs to do this for the nation," Fogleman said, "and if we don't pay attention to it, it will go to somebody else."