As well as launching the GlobalEye AEW/multi-int platform, Saab has unveiled two new platforms for its Swordfish maritime patrol/anti-submarine offering. Bombardier’s Global 6000 offers a business jet platform for customers seeking a high-performance aircraft that can spend 8.5 hours on station at a radius of 1,000 nm. Alternatively, Swordfish has been packaged for the Bombardier Q400, which can spend eight hours on patrol at 200-nm radius. The initial Saab 2000 turboprop platform is also available.
Swordfish draws on the new command-and-control mission systems developed for the GlobalEye, many of which are in a state of advanced development, or even in production. Indeed, more than 60 percent of the system is common. A typical Swordfish configuration has four operator consoles, although up to six can be fitted if required. “Dry” sensors include a Finmeccanica-Selex ES Seaspray 7500E spinning AESA (active electronically scanned array) multi-mode radar and FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE electro-optical turret. Comprehensive electronic support measures and self-protection systems are fitted, as is AIS (automatic identification system), the maritime equivalent of IFF (identification friend or foe).
For anti-submarine duties the “wet” system comprises 100 sonobuoys dispensed through a rotary launcher in the unpressurized section of the rear fuselage, and two manually-loaded tubes within the pressurized cabin. The combined weight of the buoys is around 3,750 lb. Typically, four hardpoints are provided under the wings, although six are possible on the Global 6000, which can be loaded with weapons such as anti-ship missiles or torpedoes, or with other stores such as search-and-rescue emergency drop-pods. Saab is undertaking all of the integration and test work associated with the new systems, with assistance from Bombardier.
Saab sees the Swordfish in its Global 6000 form as “the smart man’s P-8,” offering similar performance to the Poseidon but at lower acquisition and operating costs. The Swordfish has considerable applications in this region, where demand for anti-submarine warfare is expected to grow. Forecasts suggest that there will be around 200 submarines operating in regional waters within the next five years.