G550 Spy Plane Can Be Pilotless

 - June 20, 2007, 11:42 AM

Boeing has revealed a surprise entry for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) competition. While two rival bids use High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Boeing is adapting the Gulfstream G550 to fly the mission manned or unmanned. Also, Raytheon has joined Boeing’s bid to offer an active-array maritime surveillance radar that will use software modes from the proven APS-137 and its derivative, due to fly on the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The U.S. Navy conceived the BAMS program as a supplement to the P-8, using the HALE UAVs to provide 24/7 coverage of broad ocean areas. Northrop Grumman proposes a system that uses the Global Hawk UAV as the platform. Lockheed Martin has teamed with General Atomics to offer the latter’s Predator B as an alternative, lower-cost HALE UAV platform. But Boeing believes that, with regulatory acceptance of UAVs flying in controlled airspace lagging, it is prudent to offer the option of what some call an optionally piloted vehicle.