Air Force Says It Will Miss ADS-B Deadline

Official says USAF fleet won’t be ready in time for the Jan. 1, 2020, mandate.

U.S. Air Force

Iraqi Freedom

The U.S. Air Force says it won't be able to equip its fleet with ADS-B Out before the government-mandated date.U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephen Faulisi

General aviation pilots must upgrade for the FAA’s ADS-B mandate by Jan. 1, 2020, but the U.S. Air Force says it won’t be able to equip all of its airplanes with the capability by the deadline. Maybe it will be fully ready by 2028. And some of its planes, Air Force officials say, might never be upgraded.

Lt. Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, told House lawmakers that the cost for equipping all USAF aircraft with ADS-B Out will be $5.6 billion, with the Air Force responsible for about $4.4 billion of that total. "Right now there is about a $1.2 billion difference between what we need to accomplish the mandate and what we have committed in our budget," he said.

Holmes added that there might not be a "cost effective" option to equip airplanes like the F-22 Raptor. He said that the earliest he foresees the USAF fully meeting the mandate is eight years after its effective date.

The Air Force will likely ask for exemptions to the airspace requirements, which are intended to shift aircraft surveillance from ground radar to satellite technology.