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Joint STARS reach 85,000 combat sortie hours

E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircrew, mission crew and maintainers pose with leadership of the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron after reaching a milestone of 85,000 hours in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility August 17, 2013. The squadron has flown the JSTARS an average of 19.4 hours each day since events following 9/11, or the equivalent of being airborne continuously for almost 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Susan Harrington)

E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircrew, mission crew and maintainers pose with leadership of the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron after reaching a milestone of 85,000 hours in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility August 17, 2013. The squadron has flown the JSTARS an average of 19.4 hours each day since events following 9/11, or the equivalent of being airborne continuously for almost 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Susan Harrington)

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System touches down on the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing’s runway in Southwest Asia after reaching 85,000 hours in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Aug. 17, 2013. The 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron has flown the JSTARS an average of 19.4 hours each day since events following 9/11, or the equivalent of being airborne continuously for almost 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Susan Harrington)

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System touches down on the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing’s runway in Southwest Asia after reaching 85,000 hours in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Aug. 17, 2013. The 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron has flown the JSTARS an average of 19.4 hours each day since events following 9/11, or the equivalent of being airborne continuously for almost 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Susan Harrington)

8/23/2013 -- SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron here reached 85,000 flight hours, Aug. 17, in support of operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

This milestone was achieved on an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS airframe. The squadron has flown an average of 19.4 hours each day since events following 9/11, or the equivalent of being airborne continuously for almost 10 years.

"The fleet of E-8C Joint STARS has combined for more than 7,800 sorties," said Lt. Col. Claude, the 7th EACCS commander. "These sorties have supported Operations Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and continue to support Operation Enduring Freedom."

The squadron's mix of active duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Army personnel continuously provide troops on the ground with command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information.

According to Lt. Col. Chris, the 7th EACCS director of operations, "We bring persistent information to the current fight and continue to evolve tactics to support future mission sets."

"It's not really about the hours or hitting a magic mark of 85,000, it's about what it represents, which is nearly 12 continuous years of JSTARS providing protection and over-watch to coalition ground forces and hunting down our enemies," said Maj. Ryan, the mission crew commander. "For that reason, it's an honor to be among the thousands of members of Team JSTARS who have fulfilled this mission every day since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001."

Aircraft commander, Maj. Billy, echoed these sentiments and said his crew represented a total of more than 148 years of combined military service.

"Overall, this milestone represents the hard work, professionalism, and dedication of Team JSTARS' deployed crews and maintainers," Claude said. "From the Airmen in Aircrew Flight Equipment to those on the ground gathering intelligence, it is truly a team effort."