Gulfstream has begun flight testing the first Sea Watch GV aircraft for the Japan Coast Guard. The aircraft is being flight tested at the Woensdrecht plant of modification partner Fokker Services in the Netherlands. The Sea Watch GVs will be used for long-range search and rescue, as well as personnel transport.
Prime contractor for the Sea Watch programme is Murabeni, Gulfstream's sales agent in Japan. Thales is the mission-system integrator and is supplying the search radar, mounted in a canoe fairing under the fuselage forward of the wing. A retractable FLIR Systems forward-looking infrared sensor is mounted in the same fairing aft of the radar antenna. Nippi will install special Japanese radios in the aircraft before delivery to the coastguard.
The aircraft has two mission consoles for the sensor and radio operators, high-density seating for 19 passengers, a medevac litter in the aft cabin and a small galley. The crew will be able to open the aft baggage door in flight at low altitude to enable the air drop of liferafts. This has been tested in flight with no adverse effects, says Gulfstream.
Although modified and flight tested in the Netherlands, the Sea Watch GV will receive US supplemental type certification. Initial flight testing has focused on the aerodynamic impact of the underfuselage radome, and a ventral fin has been added to ensure directional stability. "The radar has almost no impact on flight," says Gulfstream's senior experimental test pilot flight operations, Kent Krenshaw.
The two Sea Watch GVs are scheduled to be delivered in the first quarter of next year. Murabeni and Gulfstream are in talks with the Japan Coast Guard about a third aircraft, which would be based on the latest G550 airframe. Gulfstream says it is in discussions with other potential customers for similar special-mission aircraft.
Rockwell Collins has received certification for its Airshow 4000 moving map and flight information system. Certification was completed in a Gulfstream G400. The multimedia Airshow 400 can display video, text and graphics on cockpit and cabin monitors.
GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC
Source: Flight International