The Saab 340 AEW&C aircraft with Erieye radar, which is destined for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), took to the skies for the first time on Friday, flying from Saab’s Linkoping plant where airborne early warning and control conversion work is undertaken. Thailand has one AEW&C aircraft on order (plus another option), as part of a deal involving Gripen fighters. The Thai aircraft previously flew with the Swedish air force, but is being overhauled and upgraded prior to delivery, which is expected in about a year. In the interim, RTAF personnel will receive training in Sweden.
Saab is also supplying five Erieye-equipped AEW&C platforms, plus supporting ground systems, to the Pakistani air force. They are based on the larger Saab 2000
aircraft, with provision for five airborne operators. The first aircraft for Pakistan began its final series of system tests last month. Among the aspects being validated is the aircraft’s HES-21 self-protection suite. Later this year the aircraft is to go to Pakistan, where trials will held to determine how the platform performs as part of the wider Pakistani air defense network.
The Saab 2000 AEW&C is one of three platforms competing for a United Arab Emirates air force contract. The turboprop twin offers excellent hot-and-high performance, which was a discriminator in Pakistan and may be a factor here in the UAE. Saab claims that it offers excellent radar performance, including a maritime-search function that can spot vessels down to jet-ski size, and is a very cost-effective option. AIN understands that final submissions have been made to the UAE, and a decision is awaited.