The Japanese coastguard has ordered two Gulfstream V long-range business jets to convert into surveillance platforms for use on anti-piracy patrols.

The aircraft are due for delivery in fiscal year 2004. The ´11.22 billion ($93 million) deal has been awarded to prime contractor Marubeni Aerospace, Gulfstream's distributor in Japan. The aircraft will replace the coastguard's ageing NAMC YS-11 turboprops, and industry sources expect at least one more aircraft to be procured.

The aircraft will be modified by Fokker Services in the Netherlands and equipped with a Thales mission system and Oceanmaster 100 radar, as well as forward-looking infrared sensors.

Stork subsidiary Fokker says its share of the business is worth "several million euros" and that the two "green" GVs will arrive in the Netherlands for conversion late next year. The company has design responsibility for mission equipment integration with the existing aircraft systems and will install the mission system, design and install the cabin and be responsible for flight testing, certification and delivery.

The order is an important boost for Gulfstream as it prepares for a possible battle with rival Bombardier over an expected contract to replace 17 YS-11s operated by the Japan Air and Maritime Self Defence Forces (JASDF and JMSDF). These are mainly used in the VIP/transport and electronic surveillance roles, but Japan is also thought to be considering acquiring a business jet-based battlefield surveillance capability (Flight International, 17-23 July).

The latter platform could be equipped with a mission system such as Raytheon's Ground Surveillance Airborne Radar System, which will be installed on the Global Express to meet the UK's Airborne Stand-Off Radar requirement.

However, the JASDF and JMSDF may opt for smaller aircraft such as the GIV or Challenger for the YS-11 replacement.

Marubeni has already sold five cargo door-equipped GIVs to the Japan Defence Agency for use as passenger and freight transports.

Source: Flight International