The mystery aircraft in our last issue was the Air National Guard C-38A Courier, a military version of the co commercial, mid-sized cabin Israeli Aircraft Industries/Galaxy Aerospace Corp. Astra SPX executive jet. The Air Force acquired two of the planes in a $20.8 million contract awarded in 1996. A formal acceptance ceremony took place on April 18, 1998.
After the U.S. manufacturer Gulfstream acquired Galaxy, the civilian version of the plane was re-named the Gulfstream G100 in 2002.
The two C-38As (serial numbers 94-1569/1570, initially flown on the civil registry as N398AG/N399AG) are assigned to the 201st Airlift Squadron of the District of Columbia Air National Guard at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. They were the 88th and 90th Astras on the LAI production line. They replaced C-21A Lear Jets in the squadron.
Two Honeywell TFE731-40 turbofan engines power the C--38A. The cabin seats up to eight passengers and can be converted rapidly for medical evacuation duty. The aircraft converts to medevack configuration with removal of up to 6 seats and installation of one or two Spectrum 500 life support units. The aircraft is more commonly used for VIP transportation for small parties of government or military officials.
The C-38A differs from its civilian counterpart in having a military-grade global positioning system unit, Tactical Air Navigation, UHF and VHF secure command radio, and an "identification, friend or foe" system.
An improved civilian version, the Gulfstream G150, is "quickly becoming a favorite in the midsized market," according to its maker. A G150 test aircraft established a city-pair speed record on a flight from Tel Aviv to Geneva.
Our follow-up C-38A portrait was taken at Andrews in 1998 by Bill Crimmins, who spent decades photographing aircraft in the Washington...