The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has taken delivery of a modified Gulfstream G550 business jet that will now be further customised by Raytheon to serve as a telemetry range support aircraft (TRSA) on the Point Mugu Sea Range off California.
Accepted on 30 July by NAVAIR’s Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) Commercial Modifications and Range Support team, the aircraft has been built to the same structural configuration as the G550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) variant in service with Italy, Israel, and Singapore. The CAEW airframe provides additional volume for the installation of unique role fit of telemetry sensors and instrumentation.
The requirement to acquire a new range support aircraft for the US Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division stems from the need to replace the existing NP-3D Orion TRSA asset operated by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 30 (VX 30). The NP-3D is facing age-related sustainment challenges and obsolescence of the telemetry system.
The replacement TRSA asset is being acquired under a two-part strategy. Under Phase I, PMA-207 has acquired a commercial derivative G550, with a FAA Type Certificate, featuring CAEW structural mould line modifications and mission systems provisions. Gulfstream Aerospace, as original equipment manufacturer, was in March 2016 awarded a USD91.9 million sole-source contract for the aircraft purchase.
Currently registered as N544GD, the G550 has been built ‘green’ on the standard production line at Gulfstream’s Savannah, Georgia, facility. Post production, it was modified to embody AEW modifications (specific changes include an enlarged nose, tail and side fairings; cable conduits and channels; interior layout; and the addition of a liquid cooling system).
Phase II will see the G550 CAEW aircraft, as government-furbished equipment, handed over to Raytheon for the installation of the telemetry suite.
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