The first Gulfstream/L3Harris EC-37B Compass Call II electronic warfare aircraft for the US Air Force has made its maiden flight from Gulfstream’s facility at Savannah in Georgia.
The aircraft – based on the G550 business jet – is designed to replace the USAF’s fleet of 14 EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, and will offer greater speed, altitude, stand-off range, and endurance over the venerable C-130-based EC-130H. The new aircraft also features open architecture system that will allow for the rapid integration of new capabilities and reduced sustainment costs.
To date, six G550s have been acquired for the Compass Call II program. The G550 airframe is extensively modified by Gulfstream with large flank arrays, a reprofiled nose, large fairings on the top of the tail and rear fuselage, and a myriad of other antennas and apertures.
Conceived by the USAF’s 645th Aeronautical Systems Group (645 ASG), otherwise known as ‘Big Safari’, the EC-37B’s EW system is supplied by BAE Systems, and the systems are integrated by L3Harris.
“The Air Force’s cross-deck initiative ensures it can continue its critical electronic warfare mission for many years,” President, Aviation Services for L3Harris, Luke Savoie said in a release. “Our collaboration with teammates BAE and Gulfstream will enable the Air Force to outpace its adversaries and counter emerging technologies.”
Many of the aerodynamic modifications on the G550 have been applied to other missionised versions of the aircraft, including the G550 Conformal AEW (CAEW) system operated by Singapore, Israel, and Italy, the US Navy’s NC-37A range-control aircraft, and the RAAF’s forthcoming MC-55A Peregrine electronic intelligence system.