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On sale April 19
Saab talks up GlobalEye prospects
FM was at Saab’s Linköping production
facility for the roll-out of the new
GlobalEye airborne early warning
and control (AEW&C) aircraft on February 23.
Nowadays the unveiling of any new military
aircraft is a significant event and this ‘swing-
role surveillance system’ clearly boasts some
impressive capabilities. With the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) as the launch customer, the
company was not surprisingly tight-lipped about
many aspects of the programme, including
the planned first flight and delivery schedule.
Based on the Bombardier Global 6000 bizjet
airframe and the new Erieye ER (Extended
Range) active electronically scanned array
(AESA) radar, the first GlobalEye is one of three
planned for the UAE – orders for the first two
were announced at the Dubai Airshow in 2015
and a third was confirmed at IDEX early last
year. Unusually for an AEW&C platform, the
aircraft also features a Leonardo Seaspray
7500E maritime search radar and a FLIR
Systems electro-optical turret below the nose.
The GlobalEye won’t be the UAE’s first
AEW&C platform: as an interim solution,
it signed a contract in November 2009
for two former Swedish Air Force Saab
340AEW&C (S 100B Argus) aircraft with
the original Erieye radar. Deliveries took
place in August 2010 and April 2011.
Perhaps the most intriguing announcement
during the presentation was Saab’s confirmation
that it is already pitching the GlobalEye as a
successor to the NATO E-3A fleet by 2035.
“We are having dialogues and they are really
impressed by the radar,” Lars Tossman,
Head of Airborne Surveillance Systems
and Vice-President at Saab, confirmed.
In terms of the potential of GlobalEye as a
NATO AWACS successor, Saab points to the
successful integration of the Erieye system
with the alliance by the Hellenic Air Force.
The HAF uses the radar on the Embraer
EMB-145H platform, in service since 2004.
It’s noteworthy that Saab has turned to
international funding for the new platform,
with no current domestic commitment,
although that might change once the
Swedish Armed Forces publish their
defence plan for the years up to 2035.
The United Kingdom also needs to address
the long-term future of both the 1970s-era
E-3D Sentry AWACS and the Raytheon Sentinel
R1 ground surveillance aircraft. Although
its performance in Operation Shader has
been widely celebrated, the Sentinel is still
slated for retirement in 2021. The GlobalEye
might be an attractive option to replace two
types, as senior RAF officers consider what
could be a major overhaul of the service’s
Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition
and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force.
The first UAE GlobalEye is now in its final configuration and will commence ground tests before a flight evaluation campaign, expected to begin later this year. Saab
http://www.airforcesmonthly.com #361 APRIL 2018 // 3