Nearly one-third of Gulfstream’s fleet of 170 business jets operating in the Middle East and Africa has been put to use in far more utilitarian roles than one would expect. Instead of being dedicated to the world of luxury transportation, 50 of them are labouring in the usually less-glamorous label of “special missions.”

The various roles that fall under the special-mission heading include everything from VIP government transport to high-end surveillance. Among the former, the company delivered two G550s in VIP configurations to the Polish government earlier this year. Having G550s already in service may give the type an advantage, with the Polish Air Force also eyeing new maritime patrol and airborne surveillance requirements.

Gulfstream special-mission jets have also been configured as medical transports, with several active in that role in the Gulf region. The medical services department of the Saudi Arabian defense ministry operates a program, simply called Medevac, with the Gulfstream G450 its fixed-wing platform of choice.

The plush standard business jets that Gulfstream has brought to Dubai and is showing in the static represent the standard-bearers of the company's current range. The G280 and G550 are joined by the flagship 7,500nm-range G650ER. The G550 will be replaced by the currently in-test G600, but the type remains durably popular: in July, Gulfstream announced the 550th delivery of the Collier Trophy-winning ultra-long-range jet.

Testing of the G500 and G600 is proceeding apace, with the fifth and final G600 test aircraft making its maiden flight in late August. The company has found both aircraft to be performing better than anticipated. Fine-tune changes to both platforms during the respective test programs have yielded significant range increases. The Mach 0.85 cruise range for the G500 is up to 5,200nm (from 5,000), while for the G600 the figure is 6,500 (from 6,200). At Mach 0.90, the G500 range increases by 600nm to 4,400, while the G600 range reaches 5,100– up some 300nm on the company's original projections.

This news will interest potential customers in the Middle East, where range is a key requirement. The G500 has already completed a 4,690nm flight (from Las Vegas to London, in a little over 10 hours). Deliveries to launch customers are expected in 2018 for the G500, with G600 deliveries commencing the following year.