Israel Aerospace Industries’ ELTA unit has started exploring potential use of the Gulfstream G280 as an intelligence-collection platform even as it presses ahead with work on the G550-based Multimission Airborne Reconnaissance Surveillance System (MARS2).

The G280-based system is targeted at customers who cannot afford the higher-end MARS2 approach. The smaller aircraft – which is assembled by IAI for Gulfstream in its commercial version – would still be able to accommodate four-six operators and feature a similar sensor configuration as the MARS2, says Gideon Landa, general manager for ELTA’s airborne systems and radar division.

Customers for both the G280 and MARS2 still have not been secured, but development work is going forward.

The MARS2 could be fielded in 3-4 years from full program go-ahead, Landa suggests. It would feature communications intelligence, electronic intelligence, electro-optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator sensor packages. It is “pretty close to a mature solution,” he says during the International Quality and Productivity Center’s Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance conference here.

ELTA also has started taking an early look at what capabilities the G650 – still in development – could offer as an intelligence-gathering aircraft. A second ELTA official suggests it could provide an eventual replacement for E-8C Joint Stars ground-surveillance aircraft.

Meanwhile, ELTA is also talking to potential customers about use of a synthetic-aperture-radar targeting pod on its G550-based conformal airborne early warning aircraft. Israel and Singapore are operators of the system, but ELTA also has been trying to interest the U.S. in its use for homeland security applications. The mid-wing-mounted EL/M-20600 pod would provide overland and maritime surveillance capability, Landa says.