High-flying Limos

ON SEPTEMBER 11, 1985, the Gulfstream’s fourth design series business jet made its maiden flight from the company’s facility at Savannah, Georgia. Designated the Gulfstream IV (GIV), it was the latest version of the Gulfstream family of business jets. New design features included a 2ft (0.6m) stretch in the fuselage and a refined wing.

New Rolls-Royce Tay Mk 61108 engines gave the GIV improved performance in comparison to the Gulfstream III. Range was 4,220 nautical miles (7,810km), maximum speed 519 knots (957km/h), with a maximum operating altitude of 51,000ft (15,545m).

In the Army Now The US Army was the first service to take the Gulfstream IV into its inventory, acquiring a single example on February 25, 1992, as the C-20F for the USAPAT. When the unit later acquired its C-37As (Gulfstream Vs), the C-20F was permanently deployed with the Regional Flight Center at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, replacing the

C-20E there, which was re-assigned to Ramstein AB, Germany.

The basic GIV aircraft also entered service with the US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps. Initially the US Navy wanted three Gulfstream IVs to support the Pacific Fleet. This requirement was later changed and the planned inventory increased to five, including one for the Marine Corps. The first was delivered on February 4, 1994, followed by a second in March and three that December. Known as C-20Gs, the aircraft were configured to carry either up to 26 passengers and a crew of four, or three freight pallets. A typical crew for the C-20G comprises a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief and a loadmaster.

For its cargo-carrying role, the GIV was equipped with a ball-roller floor and a hydraulically-powered cargo door on the starboard side of the fuselage. An extra emergency exit was added over the starboard wing to comply with regulations to allow it to carry more than 19 passengers. Installing the cargo door was a major modification and left only two windows in the cabin on the starboard side. Once in service, the C-20G was equipped with a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) and a wind shear detection system.

Two C-20Gs entered service with both Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 48 (VR-48) ‘Capital Skyliners’ at NAF Washington (Andrews AFB), Maryland, and the Kaneohe Detachment at MCB (formerly MCAS) Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, the latter forming the core of VR-51 ‘Windjammers’ when it stood up on May 1, 1997. Both units were part of the Navy Unique Fleet Essential Aircraft (NUFEA) mission, transporting personnel and materiel in support of the fleet, and manned by naval reservists. It was later decided that the continental US missions of the NUFEA fleet would be co-ordinated by the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center (JOSAC) at Scott AFB, Illinois, while flights overseas would continue to be handled by the Naval Air Logistics Office at NSA (Naval Support Activity) New Orleans, Louisiana. This dual tasking allowed the most efficient use to be made of the C-20Gs. All four remain in use with VR-48 and VR-51, reporting to the Commander, Fleet Logistic Support Wing as part of the US Naval Reserve Forces.

C-20G BuNo 165153 was the sole example for the Marines. It was delivered to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, where it served until March 1995 before being allocated to the Marine Aircraft Support Detachment as part of the 4th Marine Air Wing, based at NAF Washington. Here it was used as the transport for the Commandant of the Marine Corps as well as for OSA missions. It was badly damaged by a hurricane at Miami International Airport, Florida, on February 2, 1998, when several light aircraft were blown into it After being stored at Midcoast Aviation’s facility at Cahogia, Illinois, the decision was taken, and funds allocated, to restore the aircraft and it returned to service in June 2001, returning to its role as executive transport for the Commandant of the Marine Corps based at NAF Washington (Andrews AFB, Maryland).

Air Force Gulfstream IVs

Having successfully operated three variants of the Gulfstream III, the US Air Force considered the Gulfstream IV when it required further special air mission aircraft. Its initial interest in the GIV materialised in a requirement for a single aircraft, with options for another pair. Designated as a C-20H, the first was delivered on May 23, 1994, and entered service with the 99th Airlift Squadron

(AS), part of the 89th Airlift Wing based at Andrews AFB, Maryland. It was allocated the military serial 90-0300, a duplication of a McDonnell Douglas Helicopters AH-64A Apache.

Only one of the options was eventually exercised, with 92-0375 joining 90-0300 at Andrews after being delivered on January 16,1996.

C-20Hs served alongside the C-20Bs, their extra range proving useful on some flights. They remained in service with the 99th AS until C-37As entered service. The H-models were transferred to the 86th AW based at Ramstein AB, Germany in late 2002, replacing three C-20As in service there.

Government Gulfstreams

In addition to the Gulfstream IVs acquired for the US military, a handful entered service with other US government organisations. On May 25, 1989, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acquired GIV c/n 1071, which was registered as N1 (ex N410GA) for use as an executive transport. N1 remains the flagship of the FAA’s fleet.

The US Department of Commerce controls the small fleet of aircraft operated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as scientific research platforms. These are used in part of its mission to investigate the oceans and climate. A Gulfstream IV-SP (c/n 1246, N49RF, call sign NOAA 49) was acquired and modified by E-Systems at Majors Field, Greenville in Texas, for the ‘hurricane hunter7 role, allowing it to fly into and record data from the circular storms encountered off the east coast of the United States. The modifications included adding a Raytheon AN/APG-65 radar in the revised nosecone, the origin of the aircraft’s Gonzo nickname; it was also equipped to operate GPS dropwindsondes to record wind information and had eight operator’s stations/consoles in the cabin to direct and process information.

The aircraft entered service with NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center based at MacDill AFB, Florida, in July 1996. In 2004, the WindEx Real-Time Wind Retrieval System was installed, aimed at improving the crew’s ability to record details of the winds within storms. WindEx was first used operationally in June that year on hurricanes Bonnie, Charley and Ivan.

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