The U.S. has approved Australia’s request to acquire Gulfstream G550 executive jets modified into airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare (AISREW) platforms. Up to five G550s worth $1.3 billion after conversion could be supplied, according to a foreign military sales (FMS) notification issued by the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on June 26. L3 Communication Systems of Greenville, Texas, will be the system integrator and prime contractor.
L3’s Communications Mission Integration Division at Greenville, Texas, was awarded a $93.6 million contract by the U.S. Air Force in December 2015 for G550 procurement and maintenance for Australia. The country’s Department of Defence said then that the FMS contract covered the procurement and maintenance cost of two G550s.
The Australian 2016 Defence White Paper stated that the AISREW G550s “will be acquired in two tranches and incrementally upgraded to maintain commonality with the U.S.-developed systems for long-term supportability and to maintain interoperability.”
The White Paper also noted that the capability will “substantially enhance electronic warfare support to naval, air and land forces for operations in electromagnetic environments manipulated by hostile forces” while retaining “the operating cost, range and endurance benefits of a commercial airframe.”
AIN understands that the five AISREW G550s, which will be acquired under Project AIR 555, will be assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Surveillance and Response Group and based at Edinburgh in South Australia.
The AISREW acquisition is one of several new planned investments to strengthen Australia’s ISR capabilities. The country is taking delivery of Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft and has ordered Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton HALE UAVs.