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Modifications under way on RAAF's first two Gulfstream G550s for their electronic warfare support role

Construction of four Gulfstream G550 business jets for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has been completed and external modifications to the first two aircraft for the MC-55A Peregrine electronic warfare support configuration are now under way, according to Group Captain Jason Lind, Director of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) at RAAF Headquarters.

Modification of the two other ‘green’ airframes that are currently in storage at the Gulfstream factory in Savannah, Georgia, will begin after the first two aircraft are delivered by Gulfstream to L3 Technologies in Greenville, Texas. This will occur within the next 12 to 18 months when the installation and integration of their mission systems will begin, Gp Cpt Lind said.

The first two of four baseline G550 business jets (similar to this one) are being converted into the special mission MC-55A Peregrine aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The first two of four baseline G550 business jets (similar to this one) are being converted into the special mission MC-55A Peregrine aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

This work will be managed through the US Air Force’s 645th Aeronautical Systems Group, also known as ‘Big Safari’, based at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The group has extensive experience with the design and development of airborne electronic intelligence capabilities in a classified environment.

The RAAF’s MC-55As will feature a ‘canoe’ fairing under the forward fuselage, an upper fuselage satellite communications antenna, a bulbous rear tailcone fairing housing an integrated electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) turret, and an antenna fairing on the top of the vertical stabiliser, he said.

“I don’t want to go into specifics, but all the modifications to the outer mould line of the aircraft have been used on previous designs, but they haven’t all been used together at once,” added the group captain.

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