The Saab Erieye radar

GlobalEye is a multi-role airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) platform from Swedish defence and security company Saab. GlobalEye consists of a suite of sensors using Saab's Erieye ER (Extended Range) radar and mission system, installed in the Bombardier Global 6000 long-range business jet.[1][2]

Development

During February 2016, Swedish defence company Saab announced the launch of a programme to integrate a variant of their Erieye radar system upon the Canadian Bombardier Global 6000, a long range business jet, to produce a specialised airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft. This platform is commonly referred to as GlobalEye.[3] Saab stated that the launch was in response to expressions of interest from potential customers.[4] Prior to the development of the GlobalEye, Saab had fitted the Erieye onto several separate AEW platforms, including the Swedish Saab 340 AEW&C and the Brazilian Embraer R-99.[5] To facilitate the programme, Saab secured a supplemental type certificate, authorising the modification of the existing Global 6000 to the GlobalEye configuration.[6]

The manufacturing process involves the delivery of fully completed Global 6000s to Saab's facility in Linköping, where they undergo an extensive conversion process.[6] Modifications include the strengthening of both the airframe and wing, enabling the carriage of the Erieye radar along with other sensors and wingtip-mounted equipment for electronic warfare purposes. Aerodynamic changes include the adoption of an extended tailfin, along with several ventral strakes located beneath the rear fuselage.[6] Additional power and cooling equipment is also fitted. To improve survivability, a self-protection suite comprising laser and radar warning receivers, as well as countermeasures dispensers, is installed.[6] In early 2018, Saab observed that it could produce up to three GlobalEyes per year and could commence deliveries within three years of receiving a contract.[6]

On 23 February 2018, Saab unveiled the first GlobalEye surveillance aircraft;[7] days later, it commenced ground testing in advance of the type's first flight.[6] On 14 March 2018, the first GlobalEye conducted its maiden flight from Linköping; flown by Saab experimental test pilot Magnus Fredriksson, this first flight lasted for 1 hour and 46 minutes.[8][9] By July 2018, the flight test programme was focused on expanding the aircraft's flight envelope; according to Saab's vice-president of airborne surveillance systems Lars Tossman, the first aircraft was being flown "more or less every day", and that no surprises had been uncovered during these flights.[10] On 3 January 2019, the second aircraft performed its first flight.[11] During May 2019, Saab stated that it was nearing the end of the flight testing phase relating to certification.[12]

Design

The primary sensor of the GlobalEye is its Erieye ER airborne early warning (AEW) radar; weighing approximately 1 tonne, it is mounted atop the twinjet's fuselage.[6] Saab has cited up to 450 km (216 nm) range for the AEW radar system when flown at an operating altitude of 30,000ft;[13] in comparison with earlier versions of the Erieye radar, Saab claims it has achieved a 70% increase in detection range, achieved via the use of new technology, such as gallium nitride transmit/receive modules.[6] According to Saab Group, the GlobalEye is capable of detecting and tracking a combination of airborne and surface targets, the latter on both land and sea, while mission times of up to eleven hours in duration are possible.[14] The 450km range of the radar is line of sight and is limited to 450km because of the shape of the earth, the instrumental range is actually 550km.[15]

In addition to the AEW radar, the GlobalEye is equipped with various additional sensors. These include the Seaspray 7500E maritime surveillance radar, provided by Italian defence conglomerate Leonardo; the Seaspray radar features synthetic-aperture radar and ground-oriented moving target indication modes.[6] The GlobalEye also has an electro-optical/infrared sensor, which is situated underneath the forward fuselage. Other mission equipment includes data links, voice and satellite communications and a command and control suite, the latter comprising five onboard operator stations.[6] The GlobalEye can be operated without any onboard operators, streaming its surveillance output to ground-based stations instead. According to Saab, the GlobalEye can simultaneously perform airborne, maritime and ground surveillance duties.[6] It has been offered with three layers of capability: the baseline AESA and C2 system for air, land and sea surveillance, along with some electronic intelligence functions; a version with additional infrared and sea-search functionality; and one with a dedicated signals intelligence (SIGINT) system.[3]

Operational history

During November 2015, the United Arab Emirates ordered the system, which it refers to as the Swing Role Surveillance System (SRSS), as part of a US$1.27 billion deal.[16][17] During February 2017, the UAE exercised an option to procure an additional third GlobalEye in a deal worth US$238 million.[18][19] According to UAE air force chief Ibrahim Naser Al Alawi, the GlobalEye should be a "strong force multiplier...an early warning radar which is capable also of detecting ballistic missiles, and to cover the whole domain as an air power".[6] By May 2019, lead elements, including ground control stations, had been delivered to the UAE.[12] The UAE took delivery of its first Globaleye as per schedule on 29 April 2020[20][21] and the second delivery 30 September 2020[22] the third was delivered 20 February 2021[23] On 4 January 2021, Saab announced that it had received a follow on contract with the United Arab Emirates regarding the sale of two GlobalEye systems. The order value is US$1.018 billion and the contract period is 2020-2025.[24]

Saab is offering two GlobalEye aircraft in addition to 64 Gripen E/F as part of its bid for the Finnish HX fighter procurement programme.[25] From 30 January to 6 February 2020 GlobalEye participated in HX Challenge flight evaluations flying to Finland from Linköping in Sweden with a Finnish Air Force delegation on board. [26] The buying decision is scheduled to occur in 2021.[27]

References

  1. ^ "Saab launches GlobalEye multi-role airborne surveillance system". Airforce Technology. 17 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Redefining the airborne surveillance market" (PDF). Saab. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-07.
  3. ^ a b Stevenson, Beth. "SINGAPORE: Saab introduces GlobalEye AEW aircraft." Flight International, 16 February 2016.
  4. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "UAE deal drives interest in Saab's GlobalEye." Flight International, 24 May 2016.
  5. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "ANALYSIS: How 'Skibox' unit defends Swedish skies." Flight International, 22 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hoyle, Craig. "Saab has sky-high sales hopes for GlobalEye." Flight International, 28 February 2018.
  7. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "PICTURE: Saab unveils first GlobalEye for UAE." Flight International, 23 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Successful First Flight for GlobalEye" (Press release). SAAB. 14 March 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-03-14.
  9. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "PICTURES: Saab's GlobalEye makes flight debut." Flight International, 14 March 2018.
  10. ^ Waldron, Greg. "FARNBOROUGH: Saab GlobalEye flight campaign well under way." Flight International, 17 July 2018.
  11. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "PICTURES: Saab's second GlobalEye makes flight debut for UAE." Flight International, 7 January 2019.
  12. ^ a b Hoyle, Craig. "Saab targets April delivery for UAE's first GlobalEye." Flight International, 24 May 2019.
  13. ^ Hoyle, Craig (6 November 2017). "Saab on a high with GlobalEye". Flightglobal.
  14. ^ "Saab's GlobalEye Redefines The Airborne Surveillance Market". Saab Corporate. 16 February 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-02-17.
  15. ^ Saab HX Update Presentation - Gripen E/F And Globaleye For Finland? on YouTube
  16. ^ Hollosi, Charles (9 March 2016). "Fresh details of Saab's GlobalEye surveillance aircraft emerge". IHS Jane's 360. IHS. Archived from the original on 2016-12-15.
  17. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "Saab adds to its AEW&C order backlog." Flight International, 31 May 2016.
  18. ^ Binnie, Jeremy (23 February 2017). "IDEX 2017: UAE confirms order for third Saab GlobalEye". IHS Jane's 360. Abu Dhabi. Archived from the original on 24 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  19. ^ Hoyle, Craig. "ANALYSIS: Saab on a high with GlobalEye." Flight International, 6 November 2017.
  20. ^ Donald, David (29 April 2020). "First GlobalEye Handed Over to the UAE". AIN Online.
  21. ^ "Saab Delivers the First GlobalEye". Archived from the original on 2020-10-31.
  22. ^ "Saab Delivers Second GlobalEye". Archived from the original on 2020-10-02.
  23. ^ "Saab Delivers Third GlobalEye". Archived from the original on 2021-02-23.
  24. ^ "Saab receives follow-on contract for GlobalEye". Archived from the original on 2021-01-04.
  25. ^ ""Saab's Gripen offer to Finland includes GlobalEye"". Archived from the original on 2020-02-17.
  26. ^ Jenning, Gareth (31 Jan 2020). "Saab launches Gripen and GlobalEye evaluations for Finland". Jane's Defence Weekly.
  27. ^ "The Finnish Defence Forces' Logistics Command received responses concerning the replacement of the Hornet aircraft" (press release). FI: Ministry of Defence. 22 November 2016. Archived from the original on 2017-03-13.