Italy to acquire two Gulfstream G550 CAEW spy planes

Jeroen van Veenendaal/Defensie

The United States Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved a possible foreign military sale to the Italian government of two Gulfstream G550 CAEW on December 15, 2020. 

The business jet produced by the U.S. manufacturer General Dynamics is fitted with the EL/W-2085 multi-band radar system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, turning the aircraft into an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform. The Israeli-made radar is able to process and track close to one hundred targets at the same time within a radius of 375 kilometers (233 miles) around the patrol zone of the plane. 

“The proposed sale supports and complements the ongoing efforts of Italy to modernize its airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Electronic Warfare capability and increases interoperability between the U.S. Air Force and the Italian Air Force,” says the DSCA. The price of the contract is estimated at $500 million. The delivery of the first of the two new planes should take place by the end of 2021 and the second at the beginning of the second half of 2022.

In 2012, Italy 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.


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