Saab Flies Second GlobalEye, Revises Gripen E Production

 - January 3, 2019, 11:20 AM
The second GlobalEye leaves Linköping's runway for the first time on Januray 3. (photo: Saab)

Saab celebrated the new year with the first flight of the second GlobalEye airborne early warning aircraft. Wearing Swedish civil registration SE-RMZ, the aircraft lifted off from the company’s Linköping facility at 11 a.m. on January 3, for a two-hour, 54-minute flight crewed by two test pilots and a test engineer. “Today’s successful first flight is another major step for GlobalEye. We received the initial contract in late 2015, completed the maiden flight with the first aircraft in March 2018 and now we have the second aircraft in the air just over nine months later,” noted Anders Carp, head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.

The machine is the second of three ordered as Swing Role Surveillance System platforms by the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defense, which has been operating a pair of ex-Swedish air force Saab 340 Erieyes in the interim. The GlobalEye is based on the Bombardier Global 6000 airframe that has been adapted to carry the Erieye ER radar—which incorporates GaN (gallium nitride) technology—in a dorsal “ski box” fairing. The aircraft also has an underbelly Leonardo Seaspray 7500E AESA radar and electro-optical turret for overland and maritime surveillance duties.

Meanwhile, in late December, Saab received a supplementary SEK 430 million ($48 million) contract from FMV, Sweden’s defense material administration, to cover additional equipment for the new Gripen E multi-role fighter, the first of which is due to be delivered to the Swedish air force for trials later this year.

Sweden is acquiring 60 of these aircraft, and under the original February/March 2013 contracts, some components from the current Gripen C/D fleet were to be re-used in the manufacture of the new Gripen Es. This latest contract modification, along with another awarded a year previously, now allows an unspecified number of Gripen Es to be built completely from new. In turn, this ensures the availability of Gripen C/Ds to meet operational requirements during the transition to the new variant and keeps open the option of retaining some C/D aircraft in service after the full implementation of the Gripen E fleet.