Saab is offering a version of its 2000 MPA (maritime patrol aircraft) to the Indian navy to answer that service’s medium-range, maritime reconnaissance (MRMR) requirement.
India is expected to issue a request for proposals for MRMR at the end of July, and Saab has been busy drafting its proposal. Included in the proposal is the ability to fire Saab’s RBS 15 anti-ship missile and an AESA (active electronically scanned array) search radar.
The twin-turboprop 2000 MPA is one of a family of special-mission aircraft based on the Saab 2000 regional airliner, which went out of production in 1999. Saab, however, sees the type as remaining a perfect platform for a range of missions, and offers effectively zero-time refurbished airplanes with the promise of at least 35,000 flight hours and guaranteed support for 25 years.
For India, Saab is proposing the 2000 MPA with a full maritime-surveillance suite, including a Selex Galileo Seaspray 7300 AESA radar in a radome under the belly offering 360-degree coverage and the capability of tracking 200 surface targets over a radius of more than 200 nm. It has full electronic support measures, electronic warfare self-protection and an EO/IR (electro-optical/infrared) turret.
The airplane’s radar is supported by Saab’s R4A AIS (automatic identification system) receiver/transmitter, which provides a similar identification function for surface vessels as IFF (identification, friend-or-foe) does in the air. In the cabin are four work stations facing to starboard and a tactical display on the flight deck, all interfaced with an advanced command and control system.
The Indian navy requires anti-ship capability, so Saab is proposing to fit two pylons under the Saab 2000’s belly, between the main undercarriage, to carry the company’s advanced RBS 15 missile. The pylons will be plumbed for tanks, should very long endurance be required, although without them the 2000 offers an endurance exceeding 9.5 hours.
Saab has performed what Tommy Hultin, business development director aircraft services division, described as “pre-studies,” or risk reduction work that proves the engineering feasibility of the pylons. When asked about any potential conflict between the MPA offering to India and the use of the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) Saab 2000 operated by Pakistan, he said, “We don’t see one. The AEW machine is an overland air asset, and this is going to be used at sea.”
Here at Le Bourget the company has its corporate shuttle Saab 2000 on display. As well as the MPA version, the company offers an ELINT/SIGINT (electronic-intelligence/signals intelligence) platform known as Airtracer, and the 2000 AEW&C with Erieye radar. The latter has been sold to Pakistan and an undisclosed customer, bringing to eight the number of customers for the company’s Erieye radar system, which can also be carried by the smaller Saab 340 and Embraer EMB 145. o