How a luxury business jet was transformed into the world's most sophisticated spy plane

Jan. 3, 2023
This Bombardier Challenger 650's interior has been outfitted with routers, computers and IT equipment to monitor the Ukraine border. It's the one of many business jets entering America's spy services, Michael Verdon writes for the Robb Report.

WASHINGTON - In a typical private airport, Leidos’ Artemis II would look unremarkable compared to the other business jets on the tarmac. But the Bombardier Challenger 650’s inauspicious white exterior disguises an interior not of luxury seating and woodwork, but server racks, advanced avionics and computer consoles. Instead of ferrying executives and high-net-worth individuals to distant cities, Artemis uses its antennas and computers to decipher enemy communications from 40,000 feet. The business jet was an off-the-shelf Challenger but the interior was a high-tech array designed by defense and technology firm Leidos, Michael Verdon writes for the Robb ReportContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

3 January 2023 - The use of modified civilian-market aircraft isn't a new concept. Currently, there are more than 550 Bombardier Global, Challenger and Learjet business aircraft currently performing specialized missions worldwide, from securing airspace, borders and infrastructure to head-of-state transport and humanitarian assistance including long-range medical evacuations.

The current crop of "bizjets" turned military aircraft are filled with some impressive technology but are lacking weapons systems. This fall, Bombardier delivered a U.S. Air Force Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) communications-relay focused craft to the USAF.

The U.S. Army is also working with L3Harris Technologies in Melbourne, FLa. U.S. Army Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System (ARES) aircraft, which will help modernize and enhance the Army’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Utilizing Bombardier's Global 6000/6500 platforms, the aircraft can host up to 14,000 lbs. of mission payload and has the power to run the Army’s longest-range sensors, along with the size, weight and power capacity to accommodate future growth.

The Leidos modified aircraft conducting missions in Ukraine is owned and operated by the Reston, Va.-based company. “These [planes] can see very far when operating at 40,000 feet,” Mike Chagnon, deputy group president of Leidos Defense Group, told the

Related: Bombardier’s Global 7500 bizjet breaks industry speed record between Los Angeles and New York

Related: Air Force orders six Bombardier Global 6000 jets to host airborne voice and data communications payloads

Related: Leidos selected to upgrade Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport's security checkpoints

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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