IAF GIII

2008 - K-2961 (GIII, 494) - Delhi International airport, India - (C) Steve Speight
2008 - K-2961 (GIII, 494) - Delhi International airport, India - (C) Steve Speight

Are there any Gulfstreams that every aircraft spotter would like to see or still needs? A certain Japanese GII maybe? Yes, but also the GIII's operated by the Indian Air Force. The three GIII's belong to the most secretive aircraft in the world. Not much is known about their active role and they are seldom seen outside India.

Based on the experience Gulfstream gained with the SRA-1 concept two modified high altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft for border surveillance missions were sold to India. The design of a large optical glass section (for the internal LOROP (LOng Range OPtical camera system) was first intended to get FAA approval but the demanded two layers of glass was not acceptable. The redesign with a single layer of glass was a long drawn-out process and forced a major delay in the programme. Besides the glass section the aircraft also got camera windows on both sides (covered by sliding doors). Equipment like the LOROP can be removed or repositioned through a side cargo door. Not exactly known is if the aircraft had also any ELINT-gathering capabilities. Both aircraft were delivered end of January 1987 through Prestwick as N370GA and N371GA. No information is available on where or by whom they were outfitted.
01-1987 - Prestwick, UK - (C) Watson
01-1987 - Prestwick, UK - (C) Watson
05-1987 - N47449 (GIII, 420) - Luton, UK - (C) John Lytgoe
05-1987 - N47449 (GIII, 420) - Luton, UK - (C) John Lytgoe

C/n 494 (N370GA) and 495 (N371GA) got the military serials K-2981 and K-2982 (but no photo proof could be found on any of these serials really applied) and are reported to enter service late February 1994 (over 7 years after delivery!?). Some sources report the deliberate swap of serials by the IAF between both aircraft, for confusion reasons. In 2006 the 495 suffered tail damage in a hangar roof collapse at Charbatia. In 2007 and 2009 both aircraft got an upgrade and were re-registered K-2961 and K-2962. K-2962 was noted again at Malta on 20 December 2009 and Lajes-Azores (21 December) with a new tail section and work having been done on the fuselage. It arrived at Fort Myers (FL) on December 22. After almost half a year, undergoing maintenance/upgrades, K-2962 was seen at St. Johns on 19 June 2010 and Malta 21 June on it's return flight back to India from Fort Myers (FL). 
A third GIII (c/n 420), in VIP/transport configuration was delivered in May 1987 to the Indian AF as N47449 through Luton and got serial VT-ENR. The aircraft has reportedly been allocated an IAF serial also (K-2980) but this was never worn. VT-ENR is the original SRA-1 demonstrator (N47449) and still has the cargo door on the right side of the fuselage. The aircraft was noted outside India on a ferry-flight through Algiers - Lajes - Hallifax 02-04 December 2006 painted as VT-ENR. VT-ENR was seen as K-2960 at Delhi International airport in February 2017. 

09-02-2003 - Yelahanka, India - (C) Chetan S.J.
09-02-2003 - Yelahanka, India - (C) Chetan S.J.
29-05-2007 - Malta international Airport, Malta - (C) Buzu
29-05-2007 - Malta international Airport, Malta - (C) Buzu
29-05-2007 - Malta International Airport, Malta - (C) Gordon Zammit
29-05-2007 - Malta International Airport, Malta - (C) Gordon Zammit
20-12-2009 - Malta International Airport, Malta - (C) Buzu
20-12-2009 - Malta International Airport, Malta - (C) Buzu
21-06-2010 - Malta International Airport, Malta - (C) Buzu
21-06-2010 - Malta International Airport, Malta - (C) Buzu
02-2017 - K-2960 (GIII, 420) - Delhi International airport, India - (C) Neil Harris
02-2017 - K-2960 (GIII, 420) - Delhi International airport, India - (C) Neil Harris

So, how about the current status of those classic and looked-after Gulfstream III's? In February 2017 both K-2960 and K-2961 were noted at Delhi-International Airport. Based on the report both looked in reasonable condition. K-2962 was not seen anywhere.


Comments: 0