Israeli company's airborne early warning system will be tailored to Gulfstream business jets and provide 360° coverage

Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta division is working on a version of its Phalcon airborne early warning (AEW) system for business jets that will use distributed active array antennas to provide 360° coverage.

An Elta source says a Phalcon version for Gulfstream business jets will use nose- and tail-mounted antennas and side-mounted arrays, the latter reminiscent of the Phalcon operated by the Chilean air force.

Elta picked the configuration because it provides all-round coverage while limiting drag. Reducing drag is essential to maintaining the performance of ultra-long-range business jets such as the Gulfstream 500/550, selected by the Israeli air force and others as a Phalcon platform. Such platforms have better altitude and endurance capabilities than converted airliners - which increases the surveillance area - but this can be diminished by the excrescences associated with special missions platforms.

The source says the forward and rear arrays will operate in the S-band because this allows a smaller aperture, and the side-looking antennas will be L-band systems. The company has experience with rear-looking antennas - its EL/M-2022A(V)3 maritime patrol radar has this option.

The source says Elta has miniaturisation programmes for many of its systems so they can be used on business jets and unmanned air vehicles rather than converted airliners.

Israel has ordered G550s as signals intelligence platforms, which will be equipped with Elta systems. It is not clear how many, if any, of the SIGINT systems will be incorporated on the AEW aircraft, although observers note these will almost certainly have some form of passive sensor to support the radar.

Elta is understood to have considered a dorsal-mounted radar similar to that on Sweden's Saab Argus and Embraer's EMB-145SA - which use the Ericsson Erieye phased-array radar - before picking the distributed system.

Elta's Phalcon for large platforms, such as the Airbus A310 offered in a number of competitions with Raytheon, and the Ilyushin Il-76, selected by India, have large rear fuselage-mounted non-rotating rotodomes.

Source: Flight International