Aerial Eyes: Pakistan’s New AWACS FleetsApr 10, 2013 15:12 UTC
In June 2006, Saab signed a SEK 8.3 billion provisional contract to supply Argus turboprop airborne early warning (AEW&C) systems to Pakistan, based on the Saab 2000 regional turboprop airliner and the Erieye fixed active array radar. The buy capped a 25-year quest by the Pakistani Air force to field AWACS machines, which can survey the airspace for hundreds of miles around, and co-ordinate intercept and strike missions based on what it sees.
The Saab aircraft beat other competitors, including US offers to sell the E-2C Hawkeye system. In 2007, the buy was reduced somewhat for financial reasons, but Pakistan took delivery of at least 4 planes. Then, in 2008, the PAF looked to China for another 4 AWACS. Despite some setbacks, Pakistan had a diverse AWACS fleet with more than 5 aircraft, even as its rival India has struggled to field 3 planes. That was true, until Pakistan’s own deep state policies supporting Salafist Islam came back to bite their AWACS fleet.