Gulfstream has received a $49.8 million contract to supply a modified Gulfstream V to the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Set to enter service in 2005, the long-range, high-altitude aircraft will be used for environmental research missions.

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding the $80 million High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) project, which includes aircraft modification by Lockheed Martin. The GV is to be delivered to NCAR's Boulder, Colorado, facility in 2003 for instrument installation.

The business jetwas selected because of its ability to fly above 50,000ft (15,000m). This will improve long-term storm forecasts and allow scientists to investigate high-level turbulence, the impact of aircraft emissions, the cooling effects of high-altitude cirrus and other research areas, says NCAR. The GV's speed and range will also allow quick deployment to remote regions.

NCAR previously operated a four-turboprop Lockheed Electra with limited altitude, range and speed. This aircraft was retired in February, leaving the centre operating an NSF-owned Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates a Gulfstream IV-SP modified for high-altitude atmospheric data collection.

Source: Flight International