Claiming several features as unique and ‘best of breed,’ Saab executives at Farnborough put enormous effort into briefing the characteristics, capabilities and compelling nature of the company’s all-new airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) solution – the GLOBALEYE.
They make a compelling case. As the threat envelope changes for security and defence forces and as governments pay more and more attention to detecting, deterring and defeating insidious as well as overt attacks on national security, so the number and nature of the agencies interested in accessing rapid and reliable intelligence from assets such as an AEW&C aircraft are broadening rapidly. “We think the military will of course be the primary customer for us in those nations we are in discussions with, but it is true to say that there are a much larger number of interested and influential parties now than there were only a decade ago,” said Lars Tossman, Head of the company’s Airborne Surveillance business.
Saab strongly believes the heritage it has in aircraft manufacturing, aerostructures and complex systems integration is a major asset that has underpinned the development of GLOBALEYE. Advanced radar technologies, the ability to highly leverage sensor data fusion and the capability to conduct surveillance in air, maritime and land domains – simultaneously – give the new aircraft an unassailable market edge, in the company’s view.
The powerful new ERIEYE ER (for Extended Range) radar lies at the heart of GLOBALEYE and gives the system greatly increased detection and tracking ranges, according to Airborne Surveillance Business Development executive Erik Winberg. Briefing journalists at Farnborough 2016 this week, he provided compelling evidence of the system’s powerful capability to detect small aircraft at very low altitude, small marine targets (as small as jet-skis, for example) and moving ground targets in a seamless, integrated manner, providing operators with a highly accurate and reliable intelligence picture of an area of interest – in all weathers.
Launched at the Singapore Air Show in February, GLOBALEYE is based on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet and combines ERIEYE with a maritime surveillance radar and five operator workstations to enable real time analysis of retrieved data. The platform offers operators “unparalleled endurance of up to 11 hours,” according to Winberg, and in the maritime role can detect objects down to the size of a submarine periscope at “tactically significant ranges.”
Stressing the ability the system features to operate independently and its flexible nature, allowing for changes in mission profile at short notice, Tossman called GLOBALEYE “the strategic hub of future air forces,” saying the combination of capabilities in a single platform makes the system unique.
Interestingly, though, when asked what the ‘secret sauce’ that underlies such a claim might be, Tossman did not fall back on technology, expertise or heritage. Instead, he put forward the view that “customer dialogue” is what sets the company’s solution apart from the competition. Saab has a strong reputation for being attentive and responsive to customer requirements and agile in formulating a graceful and customer-centric solution. Which explains why their products and services – ranging from combat aircraft to live training service solutions – continue to upset predictions time and time again.
GLOBALEYE needs to win several contracts in order to justify the company’s claims for it. But it would be a brave man who suggests this will not happen in the very near future.