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Australian MC-55A Peregrines undergoing flight-testing

The MC-55A Peregrine is likely to have a range of systems that will enable it to deliver powerful electronic attacks while boosting the RAAF's offensive and deep-strike capabilities. (Janes)

Australia's Gulfstream G550 electronic warfare (EW) aircraft have started initial flight-testing. The first of four ordered aircraft should be delivered by late 2023.

Known as the MC-55A Peregrine to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the aircraft are being modified into the EW configuration by L3Harris Technologies. The modifications are being conducted under the Air 555 Phase 1 (Airborne Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare Capability) project.

Images, which appeared on social media in mid-May, show the first aircraft in flight over Gulfstream's manufacturing factory in Savannah, Georgia.

An Australian Department of Defence (DoD) spokesperson confirmed to Janes that flight-testing has started.

“At this stage of the project, all four aircraft are in varying stages of the modification cycle. Initial flight-test activities have commenced, with a comprehensive flight-test programme scheduled to be completed in mid-2023,” the spokesperson said. “This will ensure the modified G550 aircraft meets the airworthiness requirements for the MC‑55A Peregrine capability.”

The “air force expects to receive the first MC-55A Peregrine aircraft in the last quarter of 2023”, the spokesperson added.

The aircraft is expected to support a range of flexible mission roles for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The DoD describes the MC-55A as a “highly capable, full-spectrum” intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare (ISREW) aircraft.

Although the DoD declined to provide specifics on the aircraft's capabilities, the spokesperson said that the “MC-55A will be a key enabler for the fifth-generation force”.

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