Last year the production version of the Saab BAMSE (Bofors advanced missile system evaluation) entered service with the Swedish armed forces and now the company is promoting the air defense system for export. The missile’s automatic command to line of sight guidance gives it exceptional capability against small, fast targets such as air-to-surface missiles and guided bombs, which is attracting significant interest, especially in the Gulf region.
The BAMSE has had a long gestation, but is now in full service with the air defense regiment of the Swedish armed forces. Known as the RBS 23 in Swedish service, the BAMSE has an effective range of more than 12 miles and altitude capability of 49,000 feet. It covers the area below the RBS 97 SweHawk missile. Other Swedish air defense assets are the RBS 70 laser-guided Manpads and the CV9040 40-mm anti-aircraft vehicle.
The BAMSE is launched from a towed missile control center (MCC), which accommodates the firing crew of two (single-crew operation is possible) and mounts six missile launchers. The launchers hinge down for rapid reloading, which can be accomplished in less than five minutes.
A thermal imager and the Eagle fire-control radar are mounted on an extendable mast. This pulse-Doppler monopulse sensor operates in Ka-band and has an effective range of almost 19 miles. The Eagle has three separate antennas for wide, medium and narrow-band tracking. The target is handed from one to another as the system refines its automatic tracking. Two BAMSE missiles can be supported simultaneously, provided the targets are within a seven-degree sector.
The missile itself receives guidance commands through uplinks embedded in the fire-control transmissions. It has a very fast fly-out speed and good maneuverability, even at the edge of the range envelope. It has a shaped charge/ fragmentation warhead and both proximity and impact fuses.
The BAMSE MCCs are easy to set up. The system is towed to its location and then leveled by one operator using hydraulics and spirit levels. The Eagle radar mast can then be extended and an entire BAMSE battery can be ready for operations in less than 10 minutes.
A typical BAMSE battery comprises three MCCs linked to a central surveillance coordination center (SCC). A battery can protect more than 16,000 square miles of surface area with overlapping coverage, with MCCs positioned typically six to nine miles from the SCC.
In Swedish service, the SCC is the Saab Giraffe AMB system (locally designated UndE 23), the unit being offered by Saab as the primary option. The Giraffe AMB (agile multi-beam) is a 3-D radar operating in the C band. It provides three instrumented ranges (30, 60 and 120 kilometers–ranging from 18 to 75 miles) and has a detection ceiling of up to almost 61,000 feet. Elevation coverage is greater than 70 degrees.
The Giraffe AMB is mounted in a standard ISO 20 container to allow transportation on a truck flatbed. The container has four legs that allow leveling, and the system can run on external or internal power. The radar antenna is mounted on a mast that can extend to 29 to 43 feet elevation, and can operate from under a camouflage net.
It uses “stacked beam” technology, employing a single wide beam for transmission and multiple narrow beams for reception. Target update rate is on the order of once every second. The system has an inbuilt command-and-control function, with two to three operators accommodated in the NBC-protected container. The system can automatically track 150 targets of its own, but can additionally handle another 80 tracks from outside sources.
The radar can be employed for a number of tasks, making it a highly versatile asset. As well as air defense duties, it can be used for sea surveillance and military/ emergency air traffic control duties. Its small target capability and fast refresh rate gives it a counter rockets and mortars (C-RAM) capability, making it ideal for deployed base operation.
C-RAM is an increasingly important capability, especially in theaters such as Afghanistan, where bases come under frequent attack. As a mortar or rocket round is tracked, the Giraffe AMB rapidly refines the trajectory to provide an early warning of the predicted impact point. It also calculates the firing point, providing an accurate position for security forces to intervene or begin a pursuit.
The Giraffe AMB has a very low sidelobe and is thus very resistant to jamming. Other capabilities of the system include the ability to automatically or manually triangulate the position of jammers. It can provide early warning of an attack by anti-radiation missiles, giving the operator the time and information necessary to decide on a course of action.
Saab is offering the BAMSE and Giraffe AMB as a highly capable stand-alone system that can provide rapidly deployable and effective air defense. However, both systems are fully capable of networked operations, and a number of potential customers are looking for more integrated solutions.
In Swedish service, the UndE 23 radar and RBS 23 can operate in a fully integrated network. At the heart of the network is a tactical control center. In a recent exercise three AMB SCCs systems provided recognized air picture coverage of much of southern Sweden linked to a central TCC. Each AMB unit also received feeds from older Giraffe 75 2-D radars, while PS-91 HARD radars can be integrated as gap-fillers. In such a network, control can be chopped to the commander of one of the AMB SCCs if the TCC is put out of action.
A variety of secure communications links is available to establish the network, which can also include AEW aircraft and fixed ground radars. When there is track data from multiple sources, the system automatically decides which is the most reliable data. Once a track has been determined as hostile, it is handed over to an MCC for engagement. The MCC operators see the same picture as that of the SCC, and even RBS 70 Manpads units can be automatically fed an air picture with the hostile target identified.