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UAE inaugurates GlobalEye early warning aircraft

The UAE's fourth Saab GlobalEye was delivered on 18 April. (Ministry of Defence of the United Arab Emirates)

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on 24 April that a reception ceremony for an early warning aircraft had been held at Al-Dhafra Air Base.

It cited Major General Ibrahim Nasser al-Alawi, the commander of the Air Force and Air Defence (AFAD), as saying the aircraft was a “qualitative addition” that will help protect the country's strategic interests.

The MoD released a video showing a Saab GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft without AFAD markings being escorted by F-16 and Mirage 2000-9 fighters before landing at Al-Dhafra, as well as personnel with 8th Aviation Wing badges working at a ground station.

Saab confirmed on the following day that it delivered the fourth of five GlobalEyes ordered by the UAE on 18 April.

The AFAD became the launch customer for the GlobalEye when an order for two was announced during the Dubai Air Show in November 2015. An order for a third was announced in 2017, with Saab reporting that it delivered that aircraft in February 2021. The Swedish company announced earlier that year that the UAE had signed a follow-on contract worth USD1 billion for two more GlobalEyes in December 2020.

Also operated by the Swedish Air Force, the GlobalEye uses the Bombardier Global 6000 long-range business jet as a platform for Saab's Erieye Extended Range radar fitted on top of the aircraft's fuselage. While the company describes the GlobalEye as an AEW&C, it also has a Leonardo Seaspray 7500E radar and FLIR Systems Safire electro-optical system mounted in pods under the fuselage, enabling it to carry out ground and maritime surveillance.

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