The Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing (ACW) in the US has officially retired the first of 16 E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft.

The 116th ACW was retired the Aircraft 92-3289 in collaboration with the joint Air Force/Army unit 461st ACW.

The move follows the 2018 announcement when the then US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said that the ageing airframe will not be recapitalised.

Last year, an official memorandum was signed by the US Air Force (USAF) chief of staff General Charles Q Brown, Jr, to initiate the retirement process in the 2022 fiscal year.

116th ACW commander Colonel Amy Holbeck said: “The first retirement of a JSTARS aircraft gives us an opportunity to celebrate the operational accomplishments and the pivotal role the aircraft has played since the first one came to Robins in 1996.”

The retired aircraft started as a commercial airliner, before being converted into the E-8C and then delivered to the USAF in March 1996.

461st ACW commander Colonel Michelle Carns said: “The E-8C JSTARS have been invaluable to the joint force by using cutting-edge technology throughout their 20 years of service.”

The 96th Test Wing’s (TW) 46th Test Squadron was associated with preparing the aircraft for retirement.

Notably, the 96th TW unit was established in 1987 as the JSTARS Test Force under the 751st Electronic Support Group at Hanscom AFB in Massachusetts.

The JSTARS Test Force moved into the Air Force Test Center in 2011 as a detachment to the 46th Operations Group. 

The unit was then restructured as the 46th Test Squadron under the 96th TW to support JSTARS and other C4ISR systems testing.