Royal Australian Air Force to Add Mission-Modified G550s to Fleet
A U.S. foreign military sale that was announced by the Pentagon in late December, 2015 has recently been completed and two Gulfstream G550 business jets modified for electronic and surveillance warfare are scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Department of Defense recently stated that more details on the modified aircrafts capability will be released later this year in a defense white paper.
A $93.6 million contract was given by the Pentagon in December to L-3 Communications for the procurement and maintenance of Australian Government G550 aircrafts. The aircrafts are meant to be worked on at L-3 Communications’ mission integration division located in Greensville, TX and the work on them is expected to be completed by November 30th, 2017.
In accordance with this contract the Australian Department of Defense said it will procure two G550’s which will be modified and made able “to provide an airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare (ISREW) capability” meant to support Australian Defense Force Operations. The Royal Australian Air force currently operates a fleet of Lockheed AP-3C Orion four-engine turboprop, some of which may have electronic intelligence capabilities. These capabilities will be transferred to the modified G550 aircrafts. Eventually the Orion aircrafts, which provide maritime surveillance, will be replaced by Boeing P-8A Poseidons and up to seven unmanned Northrop Grumman MQ-4C aircrafts.
This announcement of the Royal Australian Air Force plan to acquire and field these modified G550s as a special mission platform was somewhat surprising given that no official requirement had previously been disclosed. Once in deployed, the G550s will join the P-A Poseidon, EA-18G Growler, Boeing E-7A Wedgetail, Lockheed Martin AP-3C Orion, Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton and the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron platforms in helping provide surveillance, intelligence, special missions and reconnaissance mission capabilities.
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