UAE Buys Saab’s Erieye AEW&C Aircraft
In November 2009, Saab announced a 1.5 billion SEK (about $220 million) contract from the United Arab Emirates for 2 of its Saab 340 regional turboprops, equipped with Erieye active-array radars that can scan large airspace volumes, and with related command and control systems. The Saab 340 AEW contract also includes ground equipment, initial spares, and support services.
The UAE is just the latest buyer of Saab’s Erieye system.
The Erieye, and Its Competitors
The Erieye family of Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft offer of small size, lower purchase price, dual air/sea scan capabilities, and comparatively cheap operating costs are making it one of the world’s most popular AEW systems. The antenna reportedly provides coverage out to 450km, with a detection range of 350km even inchallenging conditions. The Erieye Ground Interface Segment (EGIS) provides a 2-way exchange of data via an associated “Link-E” datalink sub-system, and the plane’s capabilities can can also reportedly be used to support border control or even rescue operations.
The UAE joins Sweden, Pakistan, and Thailand, who have all ordered systems based on Saab’s S340/S2000 regional passenger turboprops. Brazil, Mexico, and Greece all ordered R-99As/ EMB-145 AEW&Cs that pair Erieye with Embraer’s ERJ145 regional passenger jets.
Key global competitors for Erieye systems include Boeing’s developmental E-737 ordered by Australia, South Korea, and Turkey; Israel’s Phalcon system (active on 707, IL-76, and Gulfstream G550 jets), and Northrop Grumman’s carrier-capable E-2 Hawkeye. That may become relevant, as some reports depict the Saab 340 Erieye as an interim system for the UAE, on the way to a final purchase of additional AWACS platforms.
The UAE’s aircraft order also fits into a regional trend, as the Emirates move to establish a leadership position within the Gulf Cooperation Council’s accelerating command-and-control efforts. Over time, the GCC’s ability to fuse the UAE’s efforts with local infrastructure like long range radars, Saudi Arabian 707-based E-3 AWACS/TASS planes, and other assets, may begin to produce cooperative situational awareness on a regional level.
Contracts & Key Events
March 16/11: The Khaleej Times reports that Sweden’s Saab Group will deliver the 2nd S340 Erieye to the UAE slightly late, in April 2011. It quotes Swedish Ambassador Magnus Scholdtz as saying that “We’ve offered to the UAE to sell 4 more such aircraft… it is up to the UAE to decide.”
Nov 17/09: 1.5 billion SEK (about $220 million) contract for 2 of Saab’s S340 Erieyes announced. An official statement hinted at more orders to come, saying that:
“The UAE Air Force & Air Defence is currently evaluating several options to purchase permanent solution Command and Early Warning aircraft to meet the UAE Armed Forces operational requirements.”
Local defense media picked up on this theme amd noted the order’s interim status, pending a wider buy that could involve more Erieyes, Boeing’s 737 AEW&C, or Northrop Grumman’s new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. Deliveries of the 2 Erieye planes are scheduled for Q3 2010, and Q1 2011. Saab [PDF] | Arabian Aerospace | Dubai Airshow 09 | Khaleej Times | UAE’s The National.
- Saab Group – Erieye AEW&C Airborne Border Surveillance
- DID – UAE Looking to Become a Regional C2 Leader. They bought the required back-end ground systems for national command and control first, so they could make full use of AEW&C systems when they finally bought some. Smart.
- DID (Oct 11/10) – Saab’s Mysterious S-2000 AEW&C Customer? Saudi Arabia. Essentially the same plane & system as the UAE is buying.
- Aviation Week (Feb 13/08) – Low-Cost and Effective AEW Systems Find Buyers
- C4ISR Journal (Jan 4/08) – AEW&C contenders confident as UAE decision nears