United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force announces plans for additional Saab GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft during Dubai Airshow.

On November 19, during the Dubai Airshow, the UAE Air Force (UAEAF) announced its intentions to procure two additional Saab GlobalEye aircraft from the Swedish manufacturer at an estimated cost of US$1.08bn. Saab says it will now enter into a period of negotiations and that it has not yet signed the contract amendment or received a formal order relating to the announcement. If the air arm proceeds with this transaction, it will increase its total GlobalEye order from three to five. The announcement came as Saab exhibited its third production GlobalEye (registration SE-RMU) at the event.  The heavily-modified Bombardier Global 6000 arrived in the UAE from Saab’s flight-test and production centre at Linköping, Sweden, via Crete, on November 14 – less than three months after this specific aircraft first flew. 

Participation of the GlobalEye at the Dubai Airshow is significantly fitting, given that the UAE is the launch customer for the platform, which was made public at the event in November 2015. Referred to as the Swing Role Surveillance System (SRSS) by the UAE, an initial order of two aircraft was placed at the Dubai Airshow 2015, in a contract worth US$1.27bn. In 2017, the country exercised an option to procure an additional aircraft for US$238m. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered to the UAEAF by April 2020.

SAAB GlobalEye [SAAB]
Saab GlobalEye SE-RMU on static display at the Dubai Airshow 2019. The AEW&C aircraft is temporarily wearing UAE Air Force markings. SAAB

The GlobalEye's primary sensor is Saab's Erieye ER active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, mounted on top of the aircraft's fuselage. The company says that the radar system has a range of up to 216nm (246.56 miles or 450km) whilst operating at 30,000ft (9,144m). The platform has the ability to provide operators with air, maritime and ground surveillance - as seen with the inclusion of systems such as the Seaspray 7500E maritime radar. It can also perform addition roles, such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) with its other onboard sensors and systems.

Saab says the ultra-long range Global 6000 business jet, modified as a special missions platform, has up to 11 hours of operational endurance. Powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce BR710A2-20 turbofan engines, the Global 6000 (and GlobalEye platform) has a maximum speed of Mach 0.89 (560.4mph, 902km/h) - giving it a range of up to 6,000nm (6,904 miles/11,112km).

Lars Tossman, vice president and head of Saab's Radar Solutions, said: “We felt it was only right and proper that the Dubai Airshow was the first exhibition at which GlobalEye would feature. It marks four years since Saab was selected amongst strong competition to be the supplier to the UAE for this advanced capability, and we welcome this opportunity to showcase it here in its home nation”.

The aircraft will be on static display at the trade event until it finishes on November 21. It will return to Sweden to continue testing and development work until its scheduled delivery in 2020.