Dubai Airshow 2023: Saab GlobalEye could be jointly operated by Scandinavian countries
Finland, Sweden and Denmark have been engaging in discussions with Saab to potentially jointly operate the company’s GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, a Saab official told Shephard at the Dubai Airshow 2023.
Sweden has ordered two GlobalEyes under a US$710 million deal. Deliveries have been slated for 2027 and the contract included a potential extension for two more aircraft.
‘It comes down to the Swedish Defence Force to make that choice [about the extension], but we are having discussions with the neighbouring countries in Scandinavian – Finland and Denmark –, to see whether scaling up from two or more aircraft in the region could be part of the equation in the region,’ said Tomas Lundin, head of marketing and sales of AEW&C business at Saab.
When asked whether the countries involved could jointly use the same platforms, Lundin commented ‘Why not? That’s a good idea’. He emphasised, however, that the collaboration between the Scandinavian neighbours was only ‘aspirational’ at this point.
Although Scandinavian countries have been known for their close collaboration on dispersed air operations conducted with fighter jets, the concept of multiple nations owning a shared defence platform does not seem to have a clear precedent.
Lundin could not confirm when a decision could be expected regarding the potential collaboration, but he said Saab believed GlobalEye would ‘be an important asset’ for countries in the region and ‘they are showing a great deal of interest in the capability’.
The Swedish company has also disclosed it will deliver the remaining two GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft to the UAE at some point in 2024.
Abu Dhabi became the launch export customer when it awarded Saab a $1.3 billion development and production contract for two aircraft at the Dubai Airshow 2015. A $238 million agreement for the third system was announced in 2017, with a $1 billion follow-on contract from the for the fourth and fifth aircraft in 2021.
Three aircraft have already been delivered. Lundin said the fourth Emirati GlobalEye has already flown and the fifth ‘is about to fly’ in the coming weeks.
The Swedish-made multi-role airborne surveillance system combines the S-band Erieye Extended Range (ER) radar and mission system, and has been based on the Bombardier’s Global 6000 jet aircraft.
Lundin said Saab could deliver a GlobalEye in 36 months once it received the Global 6000 from Bombardier.
‘We do all the special missions adaptations in-house,’ he said, adding that the product was a ‘turnkey solution’ for Saab.
Photos published by Saab on the fourth GlobalEye for the UAE (picture above) have shown distinct fairings on both sides of the cabin when compared to the previously delivered three aircraft – or indeed any other GlobalEye. This was, Saab said, due to some undisclosed additional capabilities the UAE has requested for the final two aircraft.
Saab claimed the added capabilities highlighted the GlobalEye’s customisable and augmentable nature.
The company recently sold two former-Emirati Erieye radar-equipped Saab 340s to Poland, and Lundin said Warsaw has expressed interest in the GlobalEye as well. South Korea has also been pitched the Saab AEW&C platform to augment the country’s four E-7s.
‘We are expecting soon to have a firm request for proposal and South Korea is looking at buying four more airborne early warning aircraft…and it will be an open competition,’ Lundin noted.
The GlobalEye proposal for Seoul incorporated an under-fuselage and rear-fuselage mounted radars. This modification would supplement the fuselage-mounted Erieye ER radar, allowing for a 360-degree radar coverage, Saab said.
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