Gulfstream jets to be upcycled into spy planes

Adam Leach is a freelance business journalist
25 January 2016

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has signed a $93m contract with a US defence contractor to convert luxury jets into spy planes.

Under the deal signed this month, the government’s fleet of G550 jets will be repurposed into spy planes capable of landing and taking off from short-stop, remote airports and monitoring remote locations.

The work is scheduled to be completed in 2017 and will see the converted jets used to replace the P3 Orion surveillance craft, which the RAAF currently uses for reconnaissance but will be retired in 2018.

A statement from the US Defense Department said L-3 Communications had been awarded a $93m deal for procurement and maintenance.

“The Gulfstream is smaller, faster and takes fewer crew so it’s cheaper to operate,” said Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Further details are expected to be included in the Australian government’s defence white paper, to be published later this year.

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