Air Platforms

Saab touts GlobalEye as future E-3A replacement for NATO

26 February 2018
The first Saab GlobalEye was rolled out at the Linkoping production facility on 23 February. With the UAE signed up as the launch customer, Saab is touting the platform to other potential operators, including NATO. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Saab is pitching its GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform as a possible future successor to the Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) currently fielded by NATO.

Speaking at the public unveiling of the first GlobalEye in Linkoping on 23 February, the Head of Airborne Surveillance Systems and Vice-President at Saab, Lars Tossman, said discussions with NATO are in their early stages as the alliance looks for options to replace its E-3A fleet in the 2035 timeframe.

“The NATO fleet needs to be renewed in about 2035, so what will they choose?” Tossman asked, adding, “We want to tell NATO about our solution – we have already sold our [earlier generation] Erieye system to Greece, and that has been successfully integrated into the NATO [air defence] system, so we could definitely do that with the GlobalEye too”.

The E-3A has been in NATO service since 1982, and with 15 aircraft currently in its fleet (that number is set to be reduced to 14 in the coming months), the alliance launched a study in February 2017 to look at its future AEW&C requirements and options after it retires the type in about 20 years' time.

Saab’s conversations with NATO form part of an initial concept-study stage, and while Tossman said it was too early to quantify the level of interest in the GlobalEye he did note that alliance officials were “really impressed” with the aircraft’s Erieye Extended Range (ER) radar. Housed in the same dorsal plank fairing as the previous generation Erieye, the Erieye ER is an S-Band system (2 to 4 GHz) that achieves a doubling of the previous radar’s power efficiency through the use of Gallium Nitride (GaN) and other technologies.

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