Janes reported that Italian Air Force has confirmed plans to acquire new Gulfstream G550-based aircraft that will be later modified for conformal airborne early warning and control/electronic attack (CAEW/EA) roles via a deal with the U.S. Ministry of Defence revealed in the country’s latest planning document for 2021–23. The programme relates to a multimission system, based on the Gulfstream G550 equipped with sensors for strategic information collection and electronic superiority. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved a possible foreign military sale to the Italian government of two Gulfstream G550 CAEW on December 15, 2020.
In 2012, Italian Air Force had already acquired two G550 CAEWs as an industrial offset after Israel had ordered 30 Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainers for $1 billion. It received its first G550 CAEW on December 19, 2016. The aircraft are currently operated by the 71st Flight Group of the 14th Wing installed in the largest Italian air base, Pratica di Mare, located in the outskirts of Rome. The service has now confirmed plans to develop and field new G550-based C4ISTAR aircraft, with the project extending over two phases for a total budget of EUR2.15 billion (USD2.5 billion).
The Gulfstream G550 is a business jet aircraft produced by General Dynamics’ Gulfstream Aerospace unit in Savannah, Georgia, US. The certification designation is GV-SP. Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is increased by 500 lb (230 kg) and takeoff performance is enhanced. A seventh pair of windows is added and the entry door is moved 2 ft (0.61 m) forward to increase usable cabin length. The PlaneView flight deck features cursor control devices, Honeywell Primus Epic avionics, standard head-up guidance system by Rockwell Collins and enhanced vision system by Elbit, improving situational awareness in reduced visibility conditions.
Initial long-range cruise altitude is FL 400-410, first hour fuel burn is 4,500–5,000 lb (2,000–2,300 kg) decreasing for the second hour to 3,000 and 2,400 lb (1,400 and 1,100 kg) for the last hour. Flight hourly budget is $700-950 for engine reserves, $250 for parts and 2.5 maintenance hours. Gulfstream G550 (GV-SP) competes against the Bombardier Global 6000, which has higher direct operating costs and less range but a more spacious cross section, and the Dassault Falcon 7X with fly-by-wire flight controls, better fuel efficiency and a wider but shorter cabin.