Saab GlobalEye from the United Arab Emirates, a feast for the eyes

Saab’s GlobalEye, also known as the Swing-Role Surveillance System, debuted in Dubai in 2019, but at that time the company had yet to hand it over to its launch client. This year, the aircraft first appeared as an operational asset of the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defense. In addition to a copy of the static, another took part in the opening day flypast.

Saab developed the GlobalEye based on its 30 years of experience in developing airborne early warning (AEW) radars. Based on the Bombardier Global 6000 airframe, the system carries an Erieye ER S-band electronic scanning radar in an eight-meter fairing placed above the spine. S-band radars offer the advantages of an extremely narrow beam and low side lobes, reducing the susceptibility of the radar to interference.

The Erieye ER is accompanied by an under-fuselage surface search radar and electro-optical / infrared detection turret, as well as IFF, ADS-B In and identification system automatic maritime. Data from all sensors and external sources is merged into the central C4I system, providing a powerful and versatile multi-domain monitoring system.

In the AEW role, the GlobalEye has an instrumented range of over 300nm and can track hard-to-detect targets ranging from hypersonic missiles to low and slow flying drones and hovering helicopters. Overwater detection achieves at least 80nm against small targets such as jet skis and underwater periscopes, while the system provides mobile target indication capability on the ground over a large area against objects as small as 4×4 vehicles.

Operators benefit from an intuitive human-machine interface through which they can apply various filters to the air / sea combination. The system has a number of advanced features, such as the ability to represent on a map-based display the “shadows” of the terrain where radar coverage cannot reach and in which objects of maritime interest may be hidden.

The GlobalEye mission system architecture allows for the application of software and hardware upgrades as per customer requirements. The ability to integrate with a variety of data link systems that link the aircraft to ground stations and friendly assets is an important component.

In November 2015, the United Arab Emirates became the launch customer for the GlobalEye, initially ordering two with an option for a third, which they exercised in February 2017. Saab quickly completed the conversion of the first aircraft, and it has been deployed to the company’s Linköping. , Sweden, factory in February 2018. The first flight took place the following month.

An intensive test campaign, which involved winter periods operating under the good weather of Granada in southern Spain, enabled the company to deliver the first aircraft in April 2020. The second arrived in September and the third plane arrived in the United Arab Emirates in February this year. . The previous month, the United Arab Emirates announced an order for two more planes to bring the fleet to five. Both planes are currently in the process of being converted, having been delivered as “green” airframes from Bombardier.

In October, the Swedish government approved the start of the procurement process to acquire GlobalEyes for the Swedish Air Force to replace its two Saab 340-based S 100D / ASR890 AEW platforms. No official number for the new aircraft have not been announced, but it is generally believed that they are two, and further progress is expected soon.

There are a number of other export campaigns, with the GlobalEye included in a deal to sell the Gripen E to Finland in response to that country’s new HX fighter requirement. Saab competes with other types of hunters, but sees the inclusion of the GlobalEye as a unique “positive factor” in its offering.

GlobalEye is also part of the assessment of South Korea’s AEW-II competition, which targets an AEW aircraft successor to the Boeing 737 AEW & C Peace Eye. The AEW-II program aims to procure two aircraft, with the publication of tenders expected towards the end of the year.

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