Robins Air Force Base begins retiring JSTARS fleet

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — Robins Air Force Base is getting ready to say goodbye to the JSTARS and welcome new high-tech units in 2022.

According to a news release from Robins Air Force Base Tuesday, on Dec. 6, the Air Force authorized Air Combat Command and the Georgia Air National Guard to start divesting the E-8 JSTARS fleet beginning with four aircraft in fiscal year 2022.

Air Force officials announced back in May it will be replaced by new high-tech units aimed at fighting new 21st Century problems.

Plans to phase out JSTARS were included in President Joe Biden’s defense budget.

The release says there is no plan to reduce manpower billets at Robins as a result of this mission transformation effort. Georgia ANG Guardsmen will retrain to roles in a Battle Management Command and Control Mission, and an Advanced Battle System Family of Systems at Robins.

“This is an exciting time to lead the men and women of the 116th as we welcome new missions,” said Col. Amy Holbeck, 116th Air Control Wing commander. “The successes of our people and the 24 Air Force Outstanding Unit awards we have received give me confidence that we are ready to support future fights and that we will continue our legacy of excellence during this time of great opportunity.”

The base says active duty airmen will either be repurposed for the new missions or will transition to missions at other locations. Personnel from needed career fields will be assigned to Robins to fill remaining positions in support of the new missions.

“As we transition to the future, the Airmen of the 461st ACW will continue to deliver the capabilities of the E-8C platform providing combatant commanders with the command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance they need to make decisions in any operation around the globe,” said Col. Michelle Carns, 461st Air Control Wing commander.  “New mission requirements and capabilities are already re-imagining the warfighter’s battlefield, and the men and women of the 461st ACW are poised to provide unrivaled expertise to usher in that vision.”

The movement of these missions is contingent on the completion of appropriate environmental planning, which is estimated to be complete early in FY23.

In May, Representative Austin Scott said the changes will put Robins on the cutting edge and set its future for decades to come. Eventually, the base will be the headquarters for the Advanced Battlefield Management System (ABMS).

Scott says the Air Force needs those new programs to respond to potential threats from China and Russia.