Electronic Weapons: Goldeneye Gets A Bigger Ride

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February 11, 2021: At the end of 2020 the UAE (United Arab Emirates) ordered two Swedish more GlobalEye AEW (airborne early warning)/ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) aircraft for about $500 million each. These are built by Saab and consists of a Bombardier 6000 business jet carrying a Swedish Erieye long range radar in addition to an assortment of electronic monitoring systems. The UAE already has four GlobalEyes and always indicated a need for more to deal with the growing threat from Iran. The UAE also backs a wider program to link ground and air-based surveillance radars of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE) into a cooperative surveillance network that would provide all GCC members with better information on that is going on in the skies over their nations and the Persian Gulf in general. The recent recognition of Israel by the UAE makes possible the incorporation of Israeli data into GCC system,

The UAE ordered their first two Saab AEW aircraft in 2009 and then the new version of Globaleye systems in 2015. Globaleye was still in development when the UAE placed its first order. Given the history of reliability Saab had earned, it seemed a good idea to be first in line. Globaleye completed development and testing in 2019 and the UAE received the first one in April 2020.

Globaleye uses the upgraded Erieye ER radar which can detect aircraft over 400 kilometers distant. Another new feature is the ability to detect ballistic missile launches as well. The first two UAE Erieye systems were carried in the 13-ton Saab 340 airliner, which had a cruising speed of 290 kilometers an hour and was able to stay in the air about five hours per sortie. The later UAE orders carry Erieye/Globaleye in a Canadian Bombardier Global 6000m which is a 45-ton business jet that normally carrier 13 passengers plus a crew of two. The AEW version can carry a payload of 2.6 tons which is sufficient to cover a maritime search radar, the Erieye AEW radar and other electronic sensors

Globaleye includes a maritime search radar as well as upgraded AEW radar. Since a combined AEW maritime search system is heavier and needs more space, as well as operating farther from land, Globaleye is carried in the larger Global 6000 aircraft which has a cruising speed of 900 kilometers an hour and endurance of about ten hours. Like the basic Erieye system, Globaleye can be carried in any number of similar twin-engine jet or turboprop aircraft.

The Erieye system is built around an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar which consists of thousands of tiny radars that can be independently aimed in different directions. This is similar to the AESA radar used on the American JSTARS aircraft, a system that could locate vehicles moving on the ground. The Swedish AESA is cheaper because it's built like a long bar, mounted on top of the aircraft. This means the radar can only see, in a 120-degree arc, off both sides of the aircraft. A 60-degree arc in the front and back is uncovered. The Erieye ER radar can spot large aircraft out to nearly 500 kilometers, and more common fighter-sized aircraft at about 400 kilometers.

The UAE uses these aircraft to manage air campaigns, including the one underway in Yemen since March 2015. The primary use for UAE AEW aircraft is to deter an attack by Iran.

 


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