Gulfstream to pitch G650 for JSTARS replacement

Geneva
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

Gulfstream will offer the G650 to the US Air Force as a replacement for the service's ageing fleet of air-to-ground surveillance and targeting aircraft, chief executive Larry Flynn confirms to Flightglobal.

The 30m (110ft)-long G650 can be adapted to meet the USAF's still-emerging requirements for an aircraft to replace the Northrop Grumman E-8C JSTARS fleet, which are based on used Boeing 707s acquired in the late-1980s.

"We think we absolutely have [the right aircraft] and the government can save a lot of money," Flynn says. Boeing and Bombardier also attended an "industry day" event hosted by the air force last month.

It believes that acquiring a new platform avoids a $10.5 billion bill required to upgrade and sustain the E-8C.

The replacement plan was unveiled earlier this year, but the service is still working to define exactly what it wants and to obtain funding approval.

Documents released by the USAF in early May indicate the replacement aircraft must accommodate a crew of between 10-13 and a belly-mounted radar between 3.9-6m long. That compares with the 7.3m-long APY-7 radar and 18-member crew on the E-8C.

Boeing is expected to offer a ground surveillance version of the next-generation 737, which is already adapted for maritime surveillance as the P-8A for the US and Indian navies.

Although shorter and narrower than the 737, the G650 is still large enough to accommodate the air force's requirement, Flynn says. "The stuff they want to put in it will fit in a 650," he says.

Gulfstream has supplied several versions of the G550 to US and foreign militaries. But the JSTARS replacement is the first known attempt by Gulfstream to offer a militarised variant of the G650, which entered service about 18 months ago.

Gulfstream's bidding strategy is to team with a defence contractor to serve as the integrator, Flynn says.