Military Factory logo

Gulfstream C-20 - United States, 1983

Detailing the development and operational history of the Gulfstream C-20 Government / Military VIP Passenger Transport.

 Entry last updated on 8/18/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Gulfstream C-20  
Picture of Gulfstream C-20
Picture of Gulfstream C-20 Picture of Gulfstream C-20Picture of Gulfstream C-20Picture of Gulfstream C-20

Two different Gulfstream business jets - the III and IV series - served as the basis for the military VIP transport-minded C-20.

The Gulfstream III and Gulfstream IV commercial corporate jets have served as the framework for the "C-20" family of U.S. military government-level VIP passenger transports. The Gulfstream III covers the C-20A, C-20B, C-20C and C-20D models while the Gulfstream IV is the C-20F (U.S. Army), C-20G (USMC), C-20H (USAF) and C-20J (U.S. Army). The Gulfstream III was introduced by Gulfstream Aerospace in 1980 and 202 were built while the Gulfstream IV achieved better commercial success, entering service in the mid-1980s and has seen production reach 870 units. Both variations are twin-engine jets of conventional form and function.

The original C-20A and C-20B production models were selected to succeed the outgoing line C-140B JetStar aircraft then in service with the USAF. The C-20A held provision for 14 passengers and carried a crew of five. The C-20B (2 x Rolls-Royce Spey 511-8 engines) arrived in 1992 with updated avionics and electronics while the C-20C introduced protected communications for its passengers. The C-20D was taken on by the United States Navy (USN) as an Operational Support Airlift (OSA) type and given appropriate mission equipment for the role of transporting high-ranking USN officials. The C-20E arrived as a "stretched fuselage" model and given slightly reworked wing mainplanes, serving the United States Army.

The SRA-1 became a specialized variant intended for reconnaissance and surveillance for the export market. Similarly, the SMA-3 became a radar-equipped version for maritime patrol, Search & Rescue and VIP transport for Denmark.

For the USAF, three C-20A examples were delivered to the 89th Airlift Wing and these were then shipped to Ramstein AFB in Germany. The C-20B arrived powered by 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey Mark 511-8 series engines.

The C-20H was another stretched fuselage version (powered by 2 x Rolls-Royce Tay 611-8 engines) and this arrived in 1992 as a more advanced model with modernized avionics, uprated engines and new electrical system offering improved range, performance and noise reduction.

The C-20A was given up in frontline service by the USAF in 2002. To fill the gap at Ramstein, a pair of C-20H models were shipped to Germany in their place.

Gulfstream C-20A Specifications

Service Year: 1983
Type: Government / Military VIP Passenger Transport
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation - USA
Total Production: 20

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 2
Overall Length: 79.92 feet (24.36 meters)
Overall Width: 68.83 feet (20.98 meters)
Overall Height: 24.51 feet (7.47 meters)

Weight (Empty): 36,905 lb (16,740 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 65,499 lb (29,710 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey 511-8 turbofan engines developing 11,400lb of thrust each.

Maximum Speed: 505 knots (582 mph; 936 kph)
Maximum Range: 3,715 nautical miles (4,275 miles; 6,880 km)
Service Ceiling: 45,000 feet (13,716 meters; 8.52 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 4,350 feet-per-minute (1,326 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload


Global Operators (Customers, Users)

Sweden; United States

Model Variants

Gulfstream II - Base Business Jet model on what the military C-20 is based on; Similar forward fuselage and cross section of the Gulfstream I business jet model; swept-wing; T-tail section assembly.
Gulfstream III - Improved Gulfstream II model; increased wingspan and minor aerodynamic improvements; increased fuel capacity; increased overall range.
Gulfstream IIB - Updated Gulfstream II's with Gulfstream III newer wing assembly.
C-20 - Military variant based on the Gulfstream III design; utilized by the USAF.

Images Gallery