Houston & Peach

Several J-STARS planes grounded after ‘trend of mishaps’

Airmen work on a J-STARS engine in 2014 at Robins air Force Base. Four of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System E-8 aircraft were grounded recently for inspection at Robins. There are 17 planes in the J-STARS program, 16 for missions and one for training to coordinate forces in various locations worldwide.
Airmen work on a J-STARS engine in 2014 at Robins air Force Base. Four of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System E-8 aircraft were grounded recently for inspection at Robins. There are 17 planes in the J-STARS program, 16 for missions and one for training to coordinate forces in various locations worldwide. jvorhees@macon.com

Several of Robins Air Force Base’s most prominent airplanes are out of action after apparent maintenance mishaps elsewhere.

Four of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System E-8 aircraft were grounded recently for inspection at Robins. There are 17 planes in the J-STARS program, 16 for missions and one for training to coordinate forces in various locations worldwide.

“Four aircraft recently delivered from depot are being inspected for any possible safety of flight issues,” an Air Force spokesman said in a news release Saturday. “(Air Force Materiel Command) is concerned about a trend of mishaps, mostly minor but at least one significant, that appear associated with the Northrop Grumman Lake Charles Maintenance and Modification Center that performs depot maintenance on the E-8 fleet.”

The release noted that the “significant mishap” was related to water being in an area of the plane where it wasn’t supposed to be, resulting in equipment damage. All inspections were expected to be completed by Saturday, and those inspections would also help determine if other J-STARS planes need similar inspections.

Also on Saturday, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., released a statement about the maintenance issues. Isakson has been part of the push to speed up funding of a new fleet of J-STARS planes to replace those currently in use.

“This news is further evidence of the instability and the urgent need for recapitalization to be a higher priority for the Air Force,” Isakson said in the release.

Northrop Grumman is also one of three companies, along with Boeing and Lockheed Martin, that are attempting to bid for the estimated $6.5 billion contract to produce the new J-STARS planes, according to a recent story by Defense News.

Jeremy Timmerman: 478-744-4331, @MTJTimm

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