SAAB ROLLED out the first GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft at its Linköping site in Sweden on February 23. The aircraft is destined for delivery to the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence (UAEAF&AD). GlobalEye is an advanced, swing role airborne surveillance system, based on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet, which has undergone an extensive modification programme to adapt it for its role. The rollout marks a significant milestone for the programme, which is expected to see the maiden flight of the aircraft later this year.
Saab is currently producing the GlobalEye AEW&C, combining air, maritime and ground surveillance in one single solution. GlobalEye combines a full suite of sophisticated sensors, including the powerful new extended range radar (Erieye ER), with the ultra-long range Global 6000. Other sensors include the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E X-band maritime search radar and FLIR Systems Star Safire EO sensor turret.
“Saab’s breadth and depth of expertise combines all of the necessary knowledge and technology required to design, develop and produce the most advanced AEW&C systems. Our collective capabilities deliver unrivalled solutions such as GlobalEye,” said Anders Carp, Senior Vice President and Head of Saab’s business area Surveillance. “This milestone is clear evidence that the GlobalEye programme and Saab are delivering on our commitments.”
This first aircraft is equipped and being prepared for ground and flight trials to gather aerodynamic data as part of the ongoing development and production programme. The development and production contract was awarded at the Dubai Air Show in November 2015 by the UAE, with an initial order for two systems. An additional order by the UAE for a third system was announced in 2017. The GlobalEye solution brings extended detection range, endurance and the ability to perform multiple roles with one solution, including tasks such as search and rescue, border surveillance and military operations.
In a separate programme, the UAEAF&AD, is also acquiring two other Bombardier 6000-based special mission aircraft. These are being modified in the UK by the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group at Cambridge for what is believed to be an ELINT or SIGINT role. The first aircraft to be converted, 1326 (c/n 9517, ex M-ABFR, C-GPZH), arrived at Cambridge as a ‘green’ airframe from the factory in Canada on December 14, 2012, wearing registration M-ABFR. After modifications, which include a large canoe fairing under the fuselage and large ventral fins, plus numerous antennae, the aircraft began test flying from Cambridge in July 2017. The second aircraft, M-ABFQ (c/n 9494, ex C-GNKW), arrived at Cambridge on November 16, 2012.