Pilot-Optional Gulfstream 550?

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There are lots of options available on a Gulfstream 550 but Boeing intends to make the flight deck crew one of them. Lacking a suitable platform of its own, the Chicago-based company has purchased one of the $43 million state-of-the-art bizjets to turn it into a drone for maritime surveillance. If itís successful, Boeing could win a $4 billion contract to build the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program.

The Gs, minus the woodgrain and leather, we suppose, would be flown pilotless in support of the P-8A submarine killer based on the Boeing 737. And while it might seem that Boeing would have the inside track on the whole package, itís been reported that the Gulfstream idea is being scoffed at in defence circles. The converted bizjet is up against such proven pilotless platforms as the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk and the Lockheed Martin/General Atomics Mariner. If the Pentagon isnít interested, there are reports that other countries are looking at the project, including Singapore.