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JSTARS Airmen achieve 1M hours of flight time

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System returns at sunset from a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. JSTARS fly daily at various times and average around 11 hours per flight to support operations in the war on terror. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech.Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño/Released)

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System returns at sunset from a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. JSTARS fly daily at various times and average around 11 hours per flight to support operations in the war on terror. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech.Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño/Released)

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System from the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron lands after a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. TheE-8C JSTARS uses its communications and radar systems to support ground attack units and direct air support throughout the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech.Sgt. Carlos J. Trevio/Released)

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System from the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron lands after a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. TheE-8C JSTARS uses its communications and radar systems to support ground attack units and direct air support throughout the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech.Sgt. Carlos J. Trevio/Released)

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System from the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron touches down after a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. TheE-8C JSTARS is a joint U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army program that detects, tracks and clasifies moving ground vehicles in all conditions deep behind enemy lines by using a multi-mode side looking radar. The system evolved from Army and Air Force programs to develop, detect, locate and attack enemy armor at ranges beyond the forward area of troops. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech.Sgt. Carlos J. Trevio/Released)

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System from the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron touches down after a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. TheE-8C JSTARS is a joint U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army program that detects, tracks and clasifies moving ground vehicles in all conditions deep behind enemy lines by using a multi-mode side looking radar. The system evolved from Army and Air Force programs to develop, detect, locate and attack enemy armor at ranges beyond the forward area of troops. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech.Sgt. Carlos J. Trevio/Released)

Crew chiefs from the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit exit a E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System prior to a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The JSTARS uses its communicaiton and radar systems support ground units and direct air support throughout the area of responisbility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino/Released)

Crew chiefs from the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit exit a E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System prior to a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The JSTARS uses its communicaiton and radar systems support ground units and direct air support throughout the area of responisbility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino/Released)

Crew chiefs from the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit prepare to load fuel onto a E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System prior to a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The crew chiefs from the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit are deployed here from Robins Air Force Base, Ga. NCO in charge Senior Master Sgt. Frederick Mabry (center), Staff Sgts. Michael Edwards (left) and Dustin Miller(right) prepared the JSTARS for a combat mission later on that evening. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino/Released)

Crew chiefs from the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit prepare to load fuel onto a E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System prior to a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The crew chiefs from the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit are deployed here from Robins Air Force Base, Ga. NCO in charge Senior Master Sgt. Frederick Mabry (center), Staff Sgts. Michael Edwards (left) and Dustin Miller(right) prepared the JSTARS for a combat mission later on that evening. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino/Released)

Staff Sgt. Dustin Miller, a crew chief deployed here from Robins AirForce Base, Ga., rom the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit prepares a fuel line to load a E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System prior to a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. JSTARS aircrew report the information they collect to theater ground and air commanders to ensure coalition forces have real-time data in support on the war on terror. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino/Released)

Staff Sgt. Dustin Miller, a crew chief deployed here from Robins AirForce Base, Ga., rom the 7th Expeditionary Air Mobility Unit prepares a fuel line to load a E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System prior to a mission on Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. JSTARS aircrew report the information they collect to theater ground and air commanders to ensure coalition forces have real-time data in support on the war on terror. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino/Released)

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --

The 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron flew the Air Force’s E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, worldwide fleet to its one millionth flight hour September, 6, 2016, following a combat mission in support of operations throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility. 

 

The milestone concluded with a training sortie at the unit’s home station, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

 

The JSTARS here have completed nearly 3,000 combat hours to date this year in support of Coalition operations throughout the region.

 

“Simply put, JSTARS finds things and solves operational problems in the air and on the ground,” said Lt. Col. William Hartman, commander of the 7th EACCS. “JSTARS battle managers use our ground surveillance radar to detect, disrupt and ultimately destroy Daesh forces in Iraq and Syria in partnership with our Air Coalition strike assets every day while also providing support and over-watch of friendly forces in Afghanistan.”

 

Driving those capabilities is the unique radar system onboard the aircraft that is able to find, track and classify ground movements in all conditions deep behind enemy lines. The detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information provided by the JSTARS to theater ground and air commanders directly contributed to more than 15,000 air strikes conducted during Operation Inherent Resolve, ultimately shaping and clearing Daesh’s operations across the region.

 

The platform also boasts a robust communication suite, which allows it to execute airborne command and control to boost force protection, defensive operations, over-watch and combat search and rescue missions.

 

The Air Force’s JSTARS fleet of only 16 aircraft has, in its combined lifetime, flown in excess of one million flight hours.  If flown continuously, that would be equal to more than 114 years of non-stop flight time.

 

To achieve such a legacy milestone, the fleet relies on its Airmen’s ingenuity to make the impossible, possible.

 

The JSTARS maintenance crews navigate a variety of issues daily in the desert environment here to ensure the 1960s-era aircraft are available to meet theater requirements.

 

“Despite a limited amount of people and available aircraft, we take pride in ensuring that ground forces receive JSTARS support overhead each and every day,” said Master Sgt. Jeremy Shores, 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron production superintendent.

 

“To make this happen, our maintainers work long hours in a hot and dusty environment with heat indexes well above 130 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Shores. “Day-in and day-out they excel in making sure items are fixed right the first time.”

Maintaining an aircraft that is older than the Airmen who work on it can be a challenge. The JSTARS fleet is comprised of Boeing 707 airliners manufactured in the 1960s. The aircraft already had between 20 to 60 thousand flight hours prior to being converted to JSTARS. Repurposed, the average aircraft in the fleet has logged more than 60,000 flight hours.

 

“Due to the age of our aircraft and its uniqueness, there is a severe shortage of spare parts. We overcome this through the vast experience our Total Force Integration team brings to the table,” Shores said.

 

The Total Force Integration team is currently comprised of Active Duty personnel, Georgia Air National Guardsmen and a small component of Reservists.

 

“Success comes with a price, and that price is wear and tear on our tired fleet,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Davis, 7th EACCS director of operations. “We could not do this without the experience and tenacity of our TFI maintenance team.”