The new G650ER aircraft will take over the urgent medical transport missions performed by the 31° Stormo, while also having a fleet commonality with the G550 already in service.
An unclassified document from the Italian Ministry of Defense shows that the Italian Air Force selected the Gulfstream G650ER to replace the Dassault Falcon 50 and Falcon 900 fleets assigned to the 31° Stormo for VIP transport and emergency medical transport. The replacement program was already announced in the latest multi year defense planning, which mentioned that a sustainability study showed the replacement couldn’t be postponed anymore.
The current fleet is made of two Falcon 50, which have accumulated over 30 years of service, and three Falcon 900, which are close to 20 years. The MoD documents say that the urgency of the acquisition is dictated by the fact that the Falcon 50 will be retired by 2024 and this will cut in half the emergency medical transport capability. The ItAF’s intention is to replace the old aircraft on a one-for-one basis, and in fact the MoD is working to acquire four Gulfstreams with options for one more.
The G650ERs will be acquired in MEDEVAC configuration, in line with their assigned emergency medical transport role, comprehensive of military navigation systems and the provisions for secure communications and self protection systems. An integrated logistic support package will also be acquired and, interestingly, the service is also evaluating the transfer of the Falcons to Gulfstream as they are dismissed.
The document says the Gulfstream G650ER fully satisfies all the requirements, prevailing on all other solutions. Specifically, the requirements are:
- High cruise speed (Mach 0.90), long range (in excess of 13,000 km), maximum control of the cabin environment (cabin pressure at FL500 equivalent at less than 1,500 m) for best survival chances of the patients;
- Capable of transporting 19 passengers on oceanic routes (from Italy to USA West coast, South America, Japan, Australia) without stops;
- Full worldwide logistics support in every continent for corrective maintenance after failures;
- Modern, efficient engines with low environmental impact;
- Fleet commonality with other assets already in service (specifically the G550) to reduce training needs for pilots and maintainers, better logistics and lower operational costs.
The contract, valued € 330 million, explicitly mentions the production of four aircraft, so they will be newly built. No details are provided about the expected date of delivery, however it is mentioned that the activities related to the program started this month (on Dec.11) and the contract will have a duration of 3032 days (about eight and a half years).