Aeronaurica Militare Acquisitions

An Israeli Gulfstream G-550 aerial intelligence spy plane takes part in the “Blue Flag” multinational air defense exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, in November 2019. Italy plans to buy similar aircraft to boost its signals-intelligence capabilities over the Mediterranean. (Photo by Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

Italy’s Aeronaurica Militare is planning to buy up to eight new Gulfstream signals intelligence aircraft. There has been no announcement as to the distribution. How many will be AWACS and how many will be SIGINT platforms  The highly modified G550’s are very capable and will provide Italy game changing capabilities over the Mediterranean Region.

The aircraft would be based at the Italian Air Force’s Pratica di Mare base south of Rome, which is already home to the two Gulfstream 550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning aircraft Italy purchased from Israel’s IAI in 2012. …more here.


Active Electronically Scanned Array

The IAI EL/W-2085 is an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) multi-band radar system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elta Electronics Industries.

It provides intelligence to maintain air superiority and conduct surveillance. The system is currently in-service with Israel and Singapore, and in the future Italy and the United States.

The phased array allows positions of aircraft on operator screens to be updated every 2–4 seconds, rather than every 12 seconds as is the case on the rotodome AWACS.

E-2D Hawkeye

In 2015, the US Navy announced it would purchase a Gulfstream G550 airframe that’s modified for the conformal airborne early warning system (CAEW).

The airframe is a technology demonstrator and test system. The long term plan is to use something like this system (likely NOT on a Gulfstream) to replace the E-2 Hawkeye. The USA currently operates 88 E-2D aircraft. That replacement may or may not be unmanned. There’s a lot of discussion about the utility of having a CICO (combat information center officer) and ACO (aircraft control officer) actually in the aircraft. The Hawkeye flies with a crew of five.



The new G550 based systems allow for an AWACS mission or a SIGINT mission.  The aircraft isn’t large enough to do both at the same time with the results that community consumers demand.

The Israelis are considering combining a SIGINT aircraft an a refueling aircraft in one platform. The Italians are likely thinking along the same lines …more here.


  1. There IS a limit as to how much you can cram in one acft and actually get the needed performance out of it. And if it loses link, then you’ve got a real problem if there isn’t a crew aboard. Just sayin…

  2. Well, if you ask me, use the 737-MAX platform for AWACS/SigINT. The plane isn’t that much more expensive than a Gulfstream and is large enough to carry equipment for both at the same time.

    I mean, the only people who really had a problem flying the MAX were all turd-world pilots. Can’t be worse than flying off and landing on a carrier at night…

    • The Italians already have the G-550 (modified) flying and like it. The integration of the suites will cost more than the platform. The Israelis do a turn-key job. I think that’s why they’re going that way.

      • I’m suspicious of whether they can fit the people and equipment for the job in a G550. I agree that the 737 isn’t much more money and is LOTS bigger, as well as common for maintenance and parts.
        I think part of the decision should depend on range and available runway and hanger size.

        Unmanned has it’s place, but it is often overhyped and as OldNFO said, losing link is a big problem for unmanned…

        • They are flying Israeli made G550 AWACS, purchased from the IDF. This was just an expansion of that program.

          The US “unmanned community” has a loud voice. I agree that an AWACS better off with an air crew than relying on a drone. The USAF Global Hawk is a really big drone with a long range and it could be used by the Navy as a shore based solution to augment the P-8’s in a SIGINT mission if it came to that. The US military (supporting the NSA mission) has a lot of platforms to chose from.

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