UAE Buys Saab’s Erieye AEW&C Aircraft
February 23/21: UAE Saab announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has received its third Saab GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The delivery of the third of the five Bombardier Global 6000 business jet-based platforms that were contracted to the UAE Air Force and Defense (AF&D) under the Swing Role Surveillance System (SRSS) programme came about 10 months after the first was handed over in late April 2020 and five months after the second was delivered in September 2020. The GlobalEye platform is built around the Saab Erieye Extended Range (ER) S-band (2–4 GHz) radar that is housed in the same external dorsal ‘plank’ as the company’s original Erieye system.
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
June 21/18: Follow-up order The government of the United Arab Emirates is placing a $38.8 million order with Saab in support of its advanced airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) solution GlobalEye. 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. Saab is currently producing the GlobalEye AEW&C, combining air, maritime and ground surveillance in one single solution. GlobalEye combines a full suite of sophisticated sensors including the powerful new extended range radar (Erieye ER), with the ultra-long range Global 6000 jet aircraft. According to Saab, the Erieye ER gives the aircraft a 70% increase of the detection range (about 403 miles) compared to the previous version. The radar provides wide-area moving target indication (GMTI) as well as improved performance against small targets such as stealth aircraft, unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles or submarine periscopes. GlobalEye brings extended detection range, endurance and the ability to perform multiple roles, including tasks such as search and rescue, border surveillance and military operations.
April 27/17: Saab’s backlog shows that a third order has been placed for the GlobalEye airborne early warning aircraft. While the customer was not revealed, the company has already received a $1.27 billion order from the UAE for two examples, which places the Saab Erieye airborne early warning radar, a ground surveillance radar and other intelligence-gathering sensors aboard an adapted Bombardier Global 6000 business jet. The firm received a second order worth $236 million in January from another unnamed buyer. Speaking on the uptake in interest, Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe added that the company forsees “an increase in leads, and an increase in offers that we are sending out to different customers.”
December 30/16: Saab will provide maintenance and support services for the Erieye early warning and control radar system it has sold to the UAE. Valued at $17.3 million, the two-year contract will cover support of Saab’s airborne 340 Erieye radar, Saab 340 aircraft and ground equipment. Speaking on the deal, Saab official Jonas Hjelm said the “agreement is a confirmation of our ability to deliver a comprehensive support solution over the product’s entire life cycle, during which we are able to guarantee availability for the customer.”
September 26/16: While the UK doesn’t look set to acquire Gripen fighters anytime soon, Saab are keen that their GlobalEye AEW&C platform would be an ideal replacement for the RAF’s current fleet of six Boeing E-3 Sentrys. The company believes that products such as its EyrieEye ER system – or a larger package like the Bombardier Global 6000-based GlobalEye – are still in the running in the UK market, even though London looks set to keep the E-3s operational until 2035. Until then, recent GlobalEye purchaser UAE may provide some operational reviews before the UK decides to go the full monty on GlobalEye.
May 25/16: Saab has announced increased interest in its configuration of a Bombardier 6000 business jet with the company’s GlobalEye system for the UAE. The $1.27 billion deal will see the heavily adapted Global 6000 to be capable of conducting airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), maritime and land surveillance, and electronic intelligence duties. Included in the package is Saab’s improved Erieye ER active electronically scanned array radar, now capable of a 70% greater detection range than its previous sensor, and the ability to spot challenging targets, such as cruise missiles, small unmanned air vehicles and hovering helicopters. Combining its below-fuselage mounted maritime search radar and electro-optical/infrared sensor will enable operators to locate surface threats and submarine periscopes, while its primary sensor’s synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication modes will be used to locate land targets.
February 18/16: Following a custom $1.27 billion two-aircraft deal to provide an early warning and control (AEW&C) system to the UAE, Saab has officially launched the new early warning aircraft to the wider market. The GlobalEye combines the Erieye ER active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with Bombardier’s Global 6000 business jet. The Erieye had been previously offered on the Embraer 145, Saab 2000 and Saab 340, but its incorporation on the Global 6000 will allow it much greater altitude and endurance capabilities, flying at 11,000 ft for 11 hours. The business jet will likely be armed with Saab’s RBS-15 anti-ship missile and a lightweight torpedo; possibly a EuroTorp weapon. Saab’s announcement comes as they look to provide maritime, land, and air surveillance capabilities to countries increasingly involved in anti-terrorism, anti-piracy, or territorial monitoring operations.
November 10/15: Saab has received an order for two additional Airborne Early Warning aircraft from the United Arab Emirates in a deal valuing $1.27 billion. The Swing Role Surveillance System (SRSR) will incorporate the company’s Erieye radar and other sensors aboard two Bombardier Global 600 business jet platforms. The UAE already operates two Saab Erieye-equipped AEW turboprop aircraft, ordered in November 2009 through a $220 million contract.
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