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The US Navy (USN) awarded Raytheon a $79 million contract to develop a new advanced telemetry system for the US Navy's Range Support Aircraft. The high-tech plane will replace the USN's aging telemetry test aircraft, which has been in service since the 1970s.

Based within the Gulfstream G550 airborne early warning (AEW) airframe, Raytheon's modern solution will offer multi-role capabilities in telemetry data collection, range safety and surveillance, and communications relay.

"It's like replacing your old eight-track tapes with streaming digital music – there's simply no comparison," Todd Callahan, Raytheon Naval and Area Mission Defense Vice President, said. "Our new Range Support Aircraft will use the latest technology to support advanced weapons testing and other missions for the next 25 years."

To develop and deliver this new capability to the USN, Raytheon will draw on its wide portfolio of products, proven technology and extensive test and evaluation expertise. Once operational, the Range Support Aircraft will collect and process telemetry data from missiles, aircraft, UAVs and ships.

Raytheon will perform system design, fabrication and aircraft integration. Once integration is complete, the company will conduct flight testing, training and mission operations with the Navy team before delivering the much-needed range support asset.

The AEW configuration was ordered on 18 March 18 2016, under Phase I of the programme. A U$79,690,954 fixed-price-incentive-firm Phase II contract for the development and integration of the Commercial Aircraft Based Instrumentation Telemetry System and the Airborne Command Transmitter System on the G550 was awarded to Raytheon on 8 November by the US Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division (NAWC-WD) at China Lake, CA/USA.

Work will be performed in Albuquerque, NM, and is expected to be completed in February 2022. An initial $6,566,000 in Fiscal 2017 research, development, test and evaluation (USN) funds was released at the time of the award. The integration contract was competitively procured under Phase II of the programme via an electronic request for proposals issued on 6 October 2016, with bids due by 17 January 2017. The deadline was later extended to 16 February, but by that date the Raytheon offer was the only one received.

After considering various types, the USN selected the G550 as the only known aircraft that can meet the specific requirements of the NAWC-WD Point Mugu Sea Range Support mission. US Naval Air Systems Command says that the G550 CAEW can meet its requirements without significant engineering, development, modification, test and certification efforts. The G550 already has both an FAA Type Certification and the necessary Supplemental Type Certificates to meet Government airworthiness requirements.

The aircraft will replace the NP-3D BILLBOARD ORIONs, which are the current range support aircraft, but are facing increasing sustainment challenges and have telemetry systems that are now obsolescent. As with the latter, the G550 will be assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 30 (VX-30) ‘Bloodhounds’ at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, CA.

 

An impression of the new US Navy G550 Telemetry Range Support Aircraft in the colours of VX-30 "Bloodhounds," via Alan Warnes' webside warnesysworld.com. Raytheon was contracted to integrate systems in new US Navy Gulfstream G550 Range Support Aircraft. (Image: NAVAIR)

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