The US Navy has become the first American armed force to order a very special Gulfstream air asset: the G550 Green heavily modified for Airborne Early Warning & Control duty.
With a price tag of almost 92 million dollar the people at the Gulfstream plant in Savannah, Georgia (USA), must be very excited that finally their own country recognized the quality of their platform, made in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Conformal Airborne Early Warning
Planned for starting operations in January 2019, the US Navy G-550 Green AEW&C will join a small international fleet, although it has not been disclosed yet if the machines will be similar in looks as the pair of G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) the Israeli Air Force is flying. Other users are the Italian Air Force (2 G550 CAEW) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (4 G550 CAEW).
Gulfstream to US armed forces
The Gulfstream as such is not new to the US armed forces, but until now was mainly enrolled in VIP transport duties as C-37B and the current numbers are small: one with the US Air Force, three with the US Navy and one with the US Army.
Israel and Lockheed Martin this week celebrated the start of final assembly of the first F-35A Adir ( “mighty one” in Hebrew) for Israel in Forth Worth, Texas. The aircraft, designated as F-35A aircraft AS-1, officially began its mate process, where four major components of the fighter aircraft are joined together in the Electronic Mate and Assembly Station to form the aircraft’s structure.
The first Israeli F-35A will continue its assembly in Fort Worth and is expected to roll out of the factory in June and be delivered to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) later this year.
In 2010, Israel became the first country to order the F-35 through the US Foreign Militrary Sales (FMS) program. The country signed contracts for 33 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft.
Israel’s contribution to the F-35 program includes Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI F-35A wing production, Elbit Systems work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system worn by all F-35 pilots fleet-wide and Elbit Systems-Cyclone F-35 center fuselage composite components production.
UPDATED 6 January | Sri Lanka is said to have signed up for at least eight Pakistani-made JF-17 Thunder fighter jets. A memorandum of understanding was signed on Tuesday 5 January during a visit to Sri Lanka by Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif , confirming earlier rumours about an imminent deal.
Update | The first export customer for the JF-17 Thunder now appears to be Nigeria and not Myanmar, as reported earlier. Nigeria expects delivery of three Thunders this year, records in the country show.
The Thunders wil almost surely replace obsolete MiG-23 and MiG-27 fighter jets. Next to those, the Sri Lanka Air Force currently also operates Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir and Chinese made Shenyang F-7 fighter jets.
Neighbouring India is said to oppose the deal between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. India had hopes to sell its indigenous Tejas jet to Sri Lanka and incidentally on Tuesday 5 January announced that aircraft’s international airshow debut at the Bahrain Air Show later this month.
The apparent deal in Sri Lanka marks the second export success for the JF-17 Thunder. Last June, another foreign customer was announced at the Paris Air Show. On 6 January 2016, Nigeria revealed itself as that foreign costumer.
El Al wants to buy up to 28 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, of which 15 will be purchased first and the remainder 13 will be options, Boeing announced on 5 August 2015.
The flag carrier of Israel currently flies a all-Boeing fleet of 37 aircraft, consisting of eighteen Boeing 737s (2x -700, 11x -800, 5x -900), seven Boeing 747-400s, six Boeing 767-300s and six 777-200s.
The Dreamliners are likely to replace most of the fleet, apart from the 737s, with the Boeing 767 being freed up to a possible conversion to in-flight refuelling aircraft by the Israeli Air Force. The military has expressed renewed interest in this tanker solution offered by Israel Aerospace Industries now that Boeing is delayed with its KC-46A tanker program for the US Air Force.
Seven Boeing KC-707 “Saknai” currently provide the Israeli Air Force with tanker capability needed for f. ex. air strikes on long distances. They are getting old and need replacement.
The Royal Thai Air Force is retiring its three remaining Israeli Aircraft Industries Arava light patrol aircraft, according to the Air Force Commander in the Bangkok Post. The military is now opting to create two squadrons of drones in stead, boosting its surveillance capability.
The IAI 201 Arava’s have served Thailand for more than 36 years, currently flying as ELINT aircraft with 402 Squadron based at Takhli. Between 1972 and 1998 the Israelis built 103 of these light Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) aircraft. Despite its small size it can transport 24 combat-ready troops in the transport role, as a surveillance platform it is a very affordable asset with low usage costs.
The Israeli Air Force retired its Aravas already in 2004.