Australia has confirmed a project to convert two private jets into surveillance aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force.
Shortly after Christmas, the United States entered into a “Foreign Military Sales arrangement” with Australia to modify two Gulfstream G550 business jets, into surveillance aircraft. This is somewhat similar to what the United Kingdom done with Sentinel, itself a converted business jet.
The Gulfstream G550 is a business jet aircraft produced by General Dynamics’ Gulfstream Aerospace unit.
An Australian defence official said:
“The aircraft will be modified to provide an airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare capability to support ADF operations. Further details on the capability will be provided in the Integrated Investment Program due for release this year with the Defence White Paper.”
A statement posted on the US Defense Department website initially confirmed the project shortly after Christmas.
“L-3 Communications Mission Integration, Greenville, Texas, has been awarded a $US93,632,287 firm-fixed price undefinitised contract action task order (1648) for Australia Government G550 aircraft procurement and maintenance. Work will be performed at Greenville, Texas, and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2017. This contract is 100-per cent foreign military sales to Australia.”
Israel has also acquired a number of G550s from Gulfstream, fitted with the a home grown sensor package for Airborne Early Warning (AEW) use. Italy has also acquired 2 G550 CAEW as part of a counter-deal to Israel’s $1 billion order for 30 Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainers. Singapore ordered four similar G550 AEW aircraft from Gulfstream, modified by Israel.