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6 Gulfstream Missions That Have Nothing To Do With Luxury

When most people hear "Gulfstream," they think of an extremely luxurious private jet used to transport VIPs around the world. But Gulfstreams do so much more than point-to-point transportation.

Did you know they're flying the following missions?

1) High Altitude Atmospheric Research

High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) is one of the leading U.S. high altitude atmospheric research aircraft. It's fitted with a variety of apertures, fuselage mounts, fuselage pads, optical view ports, wing hard points (pylons and pods), and standardized instrument racks in order to support a broad range of atmospheric and related science experiments.


2) Air Force One

Gulfstreams have flown with the call-sign "Air Force 1" while transporting the President of the United States. A USAF Gulfstream C-20C (GIII) was used to transport President Bill Clinton to both Turkey and Pakistan in 1999 and 2000. President Barack Obama flew onboard a USAF C-37B (G550) in 2009 on a date with First Lady Michelle to New York (Now that's a nice date!). He later flew on a C-37B to Maine with the First Family for summer vacation.

Gulfstreams are the only fixed-wing aircraft serving in every branch of the U.S. military.

Paul Nelhams / Flickr

3) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance

Three Special Electronic Mission Aircraft (SEMA) aircraft are operational with the Israeli Air Force. They're among the most technically advanced and modern intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft in service today anywhere in the world. Since 2005, and combat proven in 2006, the Israeli SEMA aircraft form an important layer in the country's bulwark defensive network.

4) Open-Ocean Patrol

Two Japanese Coast Guard G-V based Gulfstreams help survey Japan's extensive ocean-patrol sectors. Each aircraft has a 19-passenger, high-density interior, a belly radome which houses a surveillance radar along with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system. The aircraft can also serve search and rescue missions, with the capability to drop supplies and rescue materials to those in need.


5) Airborne Early Warning

Two highly modified CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft were delivered to Elta Systems Ltd., a subsidiary of Israeli Aircraft Industries, in 2006 for installation of Elta's conformal airborne early-warning radar system. Singapore has also placed four of these aircraft into service.

The system provides rapid target acquisition and information with full 360-degree coverage. The multi-functional Elta EL/W-2085 AEW system includes a phased-array, airborne early-warning radar, and identification friend-or-foe system, electronic support measures (ESM), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and communications intelligence (COMINT) systems. Its many modes of operation include track initiation, an extended-detection range mode with long dwell times, and target verification.

Owen65 / Flickr

6) Trained Space Shuttle Pilots

Four modified Gulfstream IIs were used by NASA to train Space Shuttle pilots. Without the nose gear down, they replicated the Space Shuttle's drag profile during dead-stick descents and landings. Each NASA GII had the left side of the cockpit modified to match the Space Shuttle controls.

For more information on special Gulfstream missions, check out Gulfstream's site.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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