SAAB has had an AWACS plane, or at least mini AWACS, in their product lineup since 1997 so for 20 years. Obviously the concept has evolved many times during the use of the radar and platform. The fuss right now is about new radar on all new Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft. Earlier SAAB has bolted their, well Ericsson’s originally, Erieye RADAR to Embraer or SAAB aeroplanes. Bombardier Global 6000 offers, compared to other platforms, some more speed (0,89 Mach max, 0,85 typical cruise, compared to Embraer max 0,78 Mach) and significant increase in range and thus boost in operational endurance. (Bombardier a bit over 11 000 km Embraer 3019 km). Also Global 6000 flies a bit higher, which helps the radar performance. SAAB 340& 2000 performance as turboprops lags very far behind. This is because the higher the radar is, further away the radar horizon is. So just basically higher you are longer you see.
Although the radar, and other sensors, is the main asset of any AEW&C system, the platform helps to get the best possible performance out of the sensor suite. As ERIEYE radar operates in 2 GHz to 4 GHz range radar operates quite strictly in Line of sight: Detection can only happen if you have LOS to target you are trying to pick up. And higher you fly, longer you can see. Again you don’t get exemptions to laws of physics. Speed is mainly a survival asset: Bombardier 6000 has better chance of getting away from harm than less speedy platforms. Although self protection suite is in place, AEW&C system can not really be described as “violently maneuvering target”. Detection range against stealth fighters can put this kind of high priority target close to harms way, so self protection suite is essential.
As can be seen from the illustration package has come long ways from 1997. Then mini AWACS has evolved into mini JSTARS and mini EW/ELINT package. Also maritime surveillance is part of the regime. SAAB is offering a really competitive package here! advancements in electronics and software engineering has really made it possible to do all kinds of nifty things with the data that is collected from radars and IR sensors!
SAAB is one of the leading users of Gallium Nitride (GaN) electronics (To my knowledge) in their lectronic systems. In essense GaN offers more efficient electronics because of resistance. (Remember the Ohm’s law?) GaN electronics are more powerful because they produce less heat than our normal everyday copper wiring. This comes from GaN having lower resistance. This leads into two things: There is more throughput in systems, and heat is less of a problem in system. This comes to play when there are great electric powers in use, like in radar. Erieye radar’s sending power must be in high tens of kilowats, considering the range, some 450km. Also GaN is faster
Considering the multitude of components in radar installation it is impossible to give “efficiency rating” for a radar. But even with modern state of the art components it might rise as high as 75%, which means rest is turned to into heat. Lets say, for discussions sake, that Erieye ER’s sending power is 75 kW, this would mean another 25 kW was turned into heat. This is equivalent of having two large size electric Sauna kiuas (heaters that make sauna hot, like 80 degrees centigrade hot), in your electronics package. So using GaN to cut the heat burden down makes a lot of sense. Not to mention better efficiency. So in short: MORE POWER.
Erieye ER radar has still the same number of components in array, 192, as did the older versions, but due advances in electronics and mathematics they can now achieve better resolution with same number of elements. GaN helps also in beam forming because it is a bit faster medium compared to copper.
SAAB cites Electronic warfare capabilities as part of GlobalEye platform. These range from basic SIGINT and COMINT packages to radar jamming and communication suppression capabilities. Basic SIGINT, like collecting waveforms and other radiation and position data from radars and communications nodes and cataloguing those for future reference.
The basic jamming apparatus is the main sensor, the Erieye ER radar. These cababilities take advantage of power and versatility of the radar, to mimic different wave forms and and broad band of frequencies in order to suppress or jam the enemy integrated air defense and their communications. SO GlobalEye is mini “Compass Call” as well, and SAAB can provide significant EW capability to her customers.
The sea surveillance radar is quite “ordinary X-band thing” that has high enough resolution to pick really small RCS targets from surface. There is also optical system that funtions in IR and seen light domains of spectrum. All together these sensors make Global eye a formidable surveillance tool. Globaleye can double also as JSTARS, so it can monitor land as well and pick moving targets from the clutter. This is helpful for monitoring troop movements and concentrations on the ground and really funtion as early warning cabapbility for nation.
So Globaleye is another SAAB product which would be extremely usefull for Finnish early warning and surveillance as well.