C-20A

Gulfstream's greatest military honor came when the US Air Force selected the Gulfstream III for it's C-20 project also known as C-SAM (Special Air Mission). A request for proposals was issued in August 1982 under the C-SAM programme for a new SAM aircraft to replace the VC-140B Jetstars in service with the 89th Military Airlift Wing (MAW) at Andrews AFB. C-SAM is the designation for a special-mission airplane to transport the president, vice president, members of the military high command and other high government officials. The contract was for seven short-range and long-range aircraft and was hotly contested. 
More than 30 different aircraft types (e.g. Boeing and Lockheed) competed. The winner would supply the aircraft and maintain the equipment. Of all the requirements the chosen airplane had also to be able to take-off at a variety of short-field runways, often under 3500 feet. This was below the Gulfstream III's rating. Because the testing and certification of the Gulfstream III still took place at Calverton, Long Island decided was to recertify the GIII in time for the bidding. With the help of the FAA the aircraft was checked in Mojave (CA) and within 90 days the recertification was a fact. In June 1983 Gulfstream presented the GIII in Washington DC. Gulfstream was awarded a contract for a 12-month lease of three Gulfstream III aircraft on June 7, 1983.


On 16 September 1983 the Air Force took delivery of the first GIII (83-0501, c/n 383) designated now as C-20A. The roll-out ceremony was at Savannah (GA) and was attended by a lot of dignitaries and employees of Gulfstream. After the contract was renewed for a further year, the aircraft were bought.

 

The US Air Force's satisfaction with its Gulfstream Aircraft resulted the other US military services investigating the type for executive transport requirements. In total 26 C-20 Gulfstream aircraft are serving or have served the US military in three different versions (GII, GIII and GIV) and used by all five branches of the armed forces. Let's start in this first part with the C-20A.

 
C-20A Gulfstream III
C-20A 83-0501 (c/n 383) was the first C-20 handed over to the US Air Force (89th MAW, Andrews AFB (MD)) on September 16, 1983. During the rollout ceremony at Savannah (GA) a color guard stood at formal parade rest as a band played ''Off we go into the wild blue yonder''. Seeing the words 'United States of America' on the side of a Gulfstream aircraft made Allen Paulson very proud. Before delivery the aircraft was registered (February 1983) N308GA by GAC, Savannah (GA). In May 1987, after arrival of the C-20B's, 83-0501 was relocated to the European theatre and served for 58th MAS (later 76th Airlift Squadron (AS)) at Ramstein, Germany. The aircraft, like the other C-20A's, were used for operational airlift support, the transport of high-priority time-sensitive passengers and cargo. 

 

18-06-1997 - Paris-Le Bourget, France - (C) Peter Vercruijsse
18-06-1997 - Paris-Le Bourget, France - (C) Peter Vercruijsse

On 17 February 2004, 83-0501 was registered N65CE with USACE titles on the fuselage for the US Army Corps of Engineers and used for low-key staff transportation. By August 2006 it had reverted to its military identity and was registered N30501. 

C/n 383 was followed by 83-0500 (c/n 382) on October 19, 1983 (acceptance 15-09-1983). First flying as N305GA (February 1983) the aircraft followed the same path serving at Andrews AFB and then at Ramstein in Germany (from May 1987). 
08-06-2002 - Stuttgart, Germany - (C) Rob Senftle
08-06-2002 - Stuttgart, Germany - (C) Rob Senftle

Handed over on May 10, 2004, 83-0500 was passed on to the US Navy as 830500 (30500 or just 500) to provide executive transport requirements for the Commander-in-Chief US Navy Europe. The aircraft was based at NAS Sigonella, Sicily (VR-1) as 'Catbird One'.

13-06-2010 - Toulon-Hyeres, France - (C) Jiri Zedka
13-06-2010 - Toulon-Hyeres, France - (C) Jiri Zedka
30-11-2013 - Novia Scotia, Canada - (C) Barry Shipley
30-11-2013 - Novia Scotia, Canada - (C) Barry Shipley

C-20A 83-0502 (c/n 389, ex N310GA, 03-1983) was delivered to the US Air Force at Andrews AFB on November 17, 1983. In May 1987 it relocated to Ramstein, Germany.

In August 1990 Saddam Hussein and its Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. Some of the first US military aircraft to fly into the region were C-20's carrying high level US government officials all over the Middle East. On August 21 C-20A 83-0502 was assigned to General Norman Schwarzkopf as his personal transport. From that day on until April 1991 the GIII stood ready to transport the commander and his staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
29-04-1993 - Mildenhall, UK - (C) Mike Freer
29-04-1993 - Mildenhall, UK - (C) Mike Freer
12-08-2001 - Frankfurt am Main, Germany - (C) Lee Collins
12-08-2001 - Frankfurt am Main, Germany - (C) Lee Collins

On September 30, 2002, 83-0502 was transferred to the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB (CA) for the use of NASA (as N502NA) as well as the US Air Force on various projects at the base. One of the projects is the UAVSAR project. 

 

The Unmanned Air Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) is an Earth Science Capabilities Demonstration project jointly developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in which a synthetic aperture radar is being flight-validated in a specially designed pod that will be interoperable with manned and unmanned aircraft. The structurally modified aircraft provides a platform to not only test and evaluate the new radar, but can also be used to gather scientific data for geological studies (e.g. during the 2011 Big Island of Hawaii, Kilauea volcano eruption). The modification will remain available for use by future research projects.
26-02-2007 - Edwards AFB (CA), USA - (C) NASA / Tom Tschida
26-02-2007 - Edwards AFB (CA), USA - (C) NASA / Tom Tschida
02-02-2014 - Keflavik International Airport, Iceland - (C) Eggert Norodahl
02-02-2014 - Keflavik International Airport, Iceland - (C) Eggert Norodahl
13-02-2014 - Palmdale Plant 42 (CA), USA - (C) David Lednicer
13-02-2014 - Palmdale Plant 42 (CA), USA - (C) David Lednicer

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