Designed as an enhanced version of the Grumman Gulfstream II, the Gulfstream III was a third generation aircraft built in Savannah, Georgia by Grumman Aerospace Corporation together with Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation.
On December 2 1979, the aircraft took its maiden flight.
On September 22 1980, the Gulfstream III received its type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and was introduced to the market.
In 1986, the last Gulfstream III was built. There were 202 Gulfstream IIIs produced in total.
Gulfstream III Design
The Gulfstream III has an external length of 25.3 meters, height of 7.4 meters and a fuselage diameter of 2 meters. Its wing has a span of 23.7 meters, wing area of 86.83 square meters, and 1.5 meter winglets. The leading edge is extended and has a modified wing contour. The radome is lengthened and a new curved windshield is attached.
The Gulfstream III’s design aims to incorporate a new wing employing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration supercritical airfoils for delaying the beginning of wave drag in the transonic speed range.
Development studies concerning drag, weight, fuel capacity, performance and cost showed that a considerable part of the new wing benefit can be secured with alterations to the current wing. As an outcome, the new wing idea was aborted and the work started on design customization that kept the Gulfstream II trailing edge surfaces and wing box structure.
Gulfstream III Engine and Performance
The Gulfstream III is powered by two Spey RB.163 Mk 511-8, a low bypass turbofan engine manufactured by Rolls-Royce. It has a maximum thrust of 11,400 lbf each. The aircraft has a maximum payload of 2,040 kg and a fuel tank capacity of 3,370 US Gal. It has a maximum take off weight of 31,615 kg and a maximum landing weight of 26,535 kg.
The aircraft has a range of 3,750 nautical miles and a cruise speed of 478 knots. It can fly up to 45,000 feet and has a climb rate of 4,210 feet per minute.
The maximum take off and landing distance are 1,550 meters and 1,346 meters respectively.
Gulfstream III Variants
The Gulfstream III has been used as a civilian and military aircraft. For civilian type, the Model G-1159A is a corporate version with two or three crew executive, driven by two Spey turbofan engines by Rolls-Royce.
For the military versions, there were several types listed. The C-20A is a United States Air Force aircraft designed for 14 passengers and 5 crew. The C-20B is a US Air Force and US Coast Guard aircraft with enhanced electronics that was in service for Operational Support Airlift (OSA) and for Special Assignment Airlift Missions (SAAM).
The C-20C is a US Air Force variant based from C-20B with improved and strengthened secure communications mostly used as a backup partnering the VC-25A during its operation as Air Force One.
The C-20D is a US Navy OSA aircraft with customized communications equipment usually in service of high-ranking officials. The C-20E is a US Army variant with an extended fuselage and a modified wing. The Gulfstream III SRA-1 is a special reconnaissance and surveillance type for export while the SMA-3 is an export variant for Denmark.
Gulfstream III Applications
The Gulfstream III is in service as a military and government transport by the Cameroon Air Force, Royal Danish Air Force (the aerial warfare force of Denmark), Algeria, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Togo, Uganda Air Force, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United State Army, United States Navy, Venezuelan Air Force, and Air Force of Zimbabwe.
Gulfstream III Accidents
On August 3 1996, a Royal Danish Air Force Gulfstream III F-330 crashed while on final approach to Vagar Airport, Faroe Islands. 9 people died on this accident along with Jorgen Garden, the Danish Chief of Defence.
On March 29 2001, a Gulfstream III operated by Avjet crashed into the ground while attempting to land at Aspen-Pitkin Country Airport. 15 passengers and 3 crew members died on this accident.
On July 4 2017, a Gulfstream III YV-2896 was shattered into the sea of Pampatar. Among the nine crew on board, only 2 bodies were recovered.