Up to four Gulfstream business jets to be modified for early warning and SIGINT roles

The Israeli air force has revealed the first of at least four Gulfstream G550 business jets to be converted for special-mission tasks.

Due to arrive in Israel next month, the modified G550 will be converted by Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta subsidiary for signals intelligence (SIGINT) duties. Elta has already integrated and tested the aircraft's SIGINT systems at a ground facility. "This will ensure a very fast installation on the aircraft," says company president Israel Livnat. Three more G550s will be delivered this year, two of which will be for the airborne early warning (AEW) role.

The G550s, to be named Nachshon (Pioneer) in Israeli service, are being acquired under a $470 million deal that also includes support services and options on two further airframes. Elta will convert one or two of the aircraft for SIGINT and electronic countermeasures use and the rest for AEW, with the latter to be equipped with the company's Phalcon phased array radar.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has confirmed its departure from the industry team developing the G550 AEW after delays in modifying the aircraft, with Gulfstream taking over their conversion.

Separately, Elta is to re-bid the G550 AEW in a fresh competition being launched by South Korea.

Earlier this year Seoul halted its $1.9 billion contest after deciding that the G550 did not meet its performance requirements. The aircraft is expected to again compete against a Boeing/Northrop Grumman solution based on the 737-700 airliner.



Source: Flight International