The Elta Systems division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has designed a joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) using a Gulfstream G280 business jet made by IAI.
Formerly referred to as the G250, the IAI-built G280 is too small to accommodate the equipment required for airborne early warning or signals intelligence missions, but can carry the sensors for a JSTARS-like battlefield reconnaissance system.
According to Avishai Izhakian, deputy general manager of Elta's airborne systems and radars division, the demand for JSTARS-type aircraft stems from the fast transition of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from air-to-air to ground combat. "The commanders want to get a full picture of what is happening on the ground and this is the ideal platform," he said.
Elta has already supplied a battlefield reconnaissance system installed on a G150, but Izhakian said the G280 is a more capable platform. In its business jet guise, the aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 18,000kg (39,600lb), Gulfstream said.
Izhakian said special mission aircraft are one of the growth engines for his division. "There is a growing market and we hope to sign some meaningful contracts very soon," he added.