Saab has won a contract to deliver two Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft equipped with its Swing-Role Surveillance System (SRSS) to the UAE Air Force and Air Defense. Worth 10.2 billion SEK ($1.27 billion), the contract was signed on Sunday, and was announced yesterday by Major General Abdulla Al Sayed Al Hashemi, executive director of the military committee for the Dubai Air Show.
The Swedish group is undertaking the system installation and integration, and service entry could come within two years. As well as the two new Global platforms, the contract covers upgrades for the UAE AFAD’s two existing Saab 340 Erieye aircraft.
SRSS employs a new version of the Saab Erieye radar, which has been continually developed over the years and expanded in capability from its roots as an airborne early warning sensor.
As well as the dorsally-mounted Erieye, the Global 6000-based SRSS also includes an electro-optical sensor turret and a second search radar mounted under the fuselage, plus wingtip-mounted and other antennas for electronic sensors.
Together the sensors and onboard system allow the simultaneous detection and tracking of multiple targets in the air, at sea and on land. According to Saab president and CEO Håkan Buskhe, the SRSS “is without a doubt the most capable airborne early warning and control system on the market.”
Acquiring an AEW aircraft has been an ambition of the UAE for some years and the subject of an exhaustive evaluation. At the 2009 Dubai Air Show, the UAE announced the acquisition of two former Swedish Air Force Saab 340 aircraft equipped with an earlier version of the Erieye system as an interim solution, and to provide operational experience in the employment of AEW. These two aircraft are to remain in service and receive a number of upgrades as part of the new contract, primarily involving the Erieye radar and associated systems.
A number of airframe platforms have carried previous generations of the Erieye radar, including the Metroliner, Saab 340 and 2000, and the Embraer EMB-145. The Global 6000 provides increased endurance, greater capacity for more sensors, and the potential to reach much higher patrol orbits. In standard business jet form the Global 6000 has a service ceiling of 51,000 feet.
While the UAE is the lead customer for the latest iteration of the Erieye concept, the developments being undertaken will feed into the overall program, and will become available for other customers. Whether gallium nitride (GaN) semi-conductor technology is employed in the SRSS–as used in Saab’s recently launched Giraffe family of ground-based radars–has not been disclosed, but it is likely that there are at least some GaN elements.