US NAVAL Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced on October 3 that it intends to acquire a new Gulfstream G550 outfitted with a Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) system. The aircraft is required for the Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range Support mission. It will replace the current NP-3D Orion range support aircraft (RSA) assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 30 (VX-30) Bloodhounds’ at Naval Air Station Point Mugu.
As no other type meets the specific requirements, it is being procured on a non-competitive basis. NAVAIR says that the G550 CAEW can meet requirements without significant engineering, development, modification, test and certification efforts. It already has both an FAA Type Certification and the necessary Supplemental Type Certificates to meet Government airworthiness requirements.
Entry into service of the G550 with the CAEW structural modifications is required before the end of 2017. The decision to replace the current RSA aircraft was made because they have been increasingly subject to service life and sustainment challenges. The original Request for Information (RFI) for the requirement had been issued on March 5, 2013. Evaluation of the responses to the RFI indicated that the G550 CAEW was the only aircraft suitable for the missions required. Alan Warnes