Saab’s GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft made its maiden flight from the company’s Linkoping production plant on 14 March.
The Bombardier Global 6000 business jet-based platform marked this important milestone just 19 days after this first aircraft for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launch customer was rolled out to the press at the same facility on 23 February.
No further details of the flight had been disclosed at the time of writing, but the aircraft will likely now enter into an intensive flight trials campaign ahead of delivery to the UAE Air Force and Defence (UAE AF&D). Besides this initial airframe, the UAE is to receive a further two aircraft by the end of 2021 (neither Saab nor the UAE have said when deliveries will commence).
The GlobalEye is built around the Saab Erieye Extended Range (ER) radar that is housed in the same external dorsal ‘plank’ as the company’s original Erieye system. Equipped as it is with Gallium Nitride (GaN) and other technologies, the Erieye ER is an active electronically scanned array (ASEA) system that doubles the radar’s power efficiency compared with previous Erieye iterations. It has a range in excess of 650 km which can be dramatically extended by focusing the radar’s energy.
Saab said the Erieye ER is resistant to jamming, and features all-weather functionality in all domains (air, sea, and land surveillance), and an “extremely high” tracking update rate against targets of interest.
Besides the radar, the aircraft is also equipped with the state-of-the-art Leonardo Seaspray 7500E AESA 360° multimode radar, as well as a retractable Star SAFIRE 380-HD electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, Automatic Identification System (AIS) for shipping, HES-21 electronic support measures (ESM) suite, and countermeasures. Performance figures disclosed by Saab give the GlobalEye an endurance of more than 13 hours and a top speed of 450 kt.
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