Grumman Aerospace developed the C-20D Gulfstream III primarily as a business jet, though the airplane has also fulfilled many other roles, including those on behalf of the United States military and NASA. The C-20D Gulfstream III’s all-weather capability, combined with its speed and extensive range have made it very popular for businesses and government agencies that have mission-critical requirements.
The C-20D Gulfstream III prototype completed its first flight on February 12, 1979. Four years later, the final version entered production. Depending on how the interior compartments are arranged, the C-20D Gulfstream III can carry up to eight passengers.
In 2003, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center needed an aerial research platform for testing and research, one that was capable of performing subsonic flight. They found their solution in a modified C-20A Gulfstream III which was supplied to them by the United States Air Force. All Gulfstream III aircraft sold to the military received the C-20A designation. Those used for transporting important government officials or special air missions were designated C-20B. The C-20B versions of the Gulfstream III came standard with high-tech communications equipment.
In case of nuclear war or other national catastrophe, the military keeps a fleet of Gulfstream III aircraft on hand, designated as C-20C Gulfstream IIIs. The United States Army and Navy versions of the Gulfstream III transport are the C-20D and C-20E. The C-20B Gulfstream III has been used extensively by American forces during both wars in Iraq and the Middle East.
Maximum speed: Mach 0.85
Cruise speed: 459 knots
Range: 3,767 nm
Length: 88 ft 4
Wingspan: 77 ft 10
Height: 24 ft 6
Maximum weight: 69,700
Empty weight: 38,000 lb
Engine(s): Two SPEY-MK511-8 Turbofan engines with 11,400 pounds of thrust each
Rate of climb: 4,049′ per minute
Crew: Three, including pilot, first officer, and crew chief.
Passengers: Up to 12
Though Gulfstream no longer manufactures the C-20 Gulfstream III or any of its variations, the Grumman continues to produce mid-size business jets, some of which are based on the technology developed for the Gulfstream III. Many of the original C-20 Gulfstream III jets remain in service both in the corporate and military sectors.