PICTURE: Singapore takes delivery of first G550 AEW

Singapore
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Singapore has received the first of its four Gulfstream G550 business jets modified to carry airborne early warning and control system equipment supplied by Israel's Elta Systems.

The Singapore defence ministry has provided only limited details of the surveillance aircraft's capabilities, saying that it has a "sophisticated mission suite that includes an active electronically scanned array radar" and the ability to "detect, identify and track aerial targets".

It confirms, however, that the G550 (first example pictured below, at Tengah air base) offers a longer detection range than the Republic of Singapore Air Force's current Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeyes, citing a performance of "more than 200nm [370km]. This will allow the RSAF to see farther and respond more effectively to various operational situations [and] will enhance the robustness of Singapore's networked air defence system," it adds.

 
© Singapore defence ministry

Flight International believes that Singapore's aircraft will be delivered with a similar configuration to the Israeli air force's G550-based conformal AEW (CAEW) aircraft, which entered service early last year.

Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary Elta says the CAEW platform offers a mission endurance of 9h when operating at an altitude of 41,000ft (12,500m) and 185km from its home base. The aircraft features dual S-band radar arrays at the front and rear, plus L-band sensors on the fuselage side, providing 360° coverage. Israel's configuration has six on-board operator stations.

The modified G550 also has pod-housed electronic support measures equipment, plus satellite communications and line-of-sight datalinks. Elta says the airframe modifications have "minimal impact" on the business jet's performance.

According to a previous statement by Singapore's defence ministry, the formal delivery period for its G550 AEW aircraft is late 2008 to 2010. The aircraft will replace four E-2Cs that have been in service for more than 20 years. Industry sources say that the four AEW-configured aircraft are expected to cost the island state up to $1 billion.

A fifth, unmodified, business jet is also being acquired to support training activities from 2012 under a 20-year private finance initiative deal with Singapore Technologies Aerospace Engineering.