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Pakistan will acquire three new Saab Erieye AEW&C
June 26, 2017

Pakistan will acquire three new Saab Erieye AEW&C

The Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman told Air Forces Monthly (AFM) that the PAF will acquire three new Saab 2000-based Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

As per AFM, the first new Erieye AEW&C will be delivered in December, with the final two due for 2018.

These will join the PAF’s three existing Erieye AEW&C and four Y-8F600-based ZDK03 AEW&C – resulting in a total of 10 AEW&C aircraft by the end of this decade.

On May 15, Saab announced a $155 million U.S. order for its AEW&C business group with deliveries set to commence from 2017 and to conclude 2020. Saab expects the sale to be inked in six months, whereby financial and other conditions will be ‘fulfilled.’

Saab did not disclose the customer, which it had done for a prior United Arab Emirates (UAE) order. In light of recent information, it is possible that Pakistan is Saab’s latest customer.

The Erieye is a critical piece of the PAF’s air surveillance and early warning strategy. Centered on an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, the Erieye provides stand-off range situational radar awareness to networked airborne and land-based assets. Saab positions the Erieye as an open platform, one that can communicate in Link-11, Link-16 and/or the end-user’s proprietary data-link protocol.

Notes & Comments:

The PAF originally ordered four Saab 2000-based Erieye AEW&C in 2006. It had planned to acquire six, but the Kashmir Earthquake of 2005 resulted in a reduced order. Instead of six Erieye, the PAF augmented its four Erieye with four ZDK03 AEW&C – designated Karakoram Eagle – from China.

In August 2012, three of the four Erieye were heavily damaged in a terrorist attack on Minhas Air Base, which was at the time housing the No. 3 AEW&C Squadron. By 2016, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) managed to restore two of the damaged aircraft. This new Erieye order will effectively replace the written-off unit as well as raise the PAF’s Erieye fleet to its originally planned force of six.

Specifics, such as whether the PAF selected the Erieye or new gallium nitride (GaN)-based AESA Erieye ER (which has 70% more range than the Erieye) or if these new aircraft include synthetic aperture radars (SAR) for ground surveillance and target acquisition, are not known. Interestingly, the recent Saab press statement mentions “border surveillance, search and rescue operations and … tracking terrorism” as use cases, this could be a possible indication of SAR and/or electro-optical and infrared equipment.

Seeing that the Saab 2000 was re-selected as the platform, it is likely that the PAF is opting to scale its existing logistics and maintenance infrastructure by adding identical equipment. Considering the level of technology infusion that was required to repair the two damaged Erieye, it will be worth seeing if this new order will entail local workshare for PAC.

Assuming Saab’s recent order is from Pakistan, it is unclear if the $155 m constitutes the value of the three Erieye AEW&C systems or if it is an installment. In 2006, Pakistan agreed to procuring six Saab 2000-based Erieye AEW&C with the requisite logistics, maintenance and training support package for SEK 8.3 billion – which was $1.15 billion in 2006. In 2007, Pakistan renegotiated the contract to omit two Erieye AEW&C, causing the contract to drop by SEK 1.35 billion, i.e. $186 million. This could indicate that the cost of each Erieye AEW&C (without its support package) was $93 million in 2007.

This order will raise Pakistan’s overall AEW&C fleet to 10 aircraft. However, in the mid-2000s the Pakistan Navy and PAF originally planned to acquire a total of nine AEW&C aircraft – i.e. six Saab 2000-based Erieye and three P-3 Orion-based Hawkeye 2000. The PAF could be aiming for that strength level, but with the ZDK03 in place of the Hawkeye 2000.

  • ahmria

    Good news AEW&C aircraft are very useful assets and not just in their traditional role. I hope this new order is for the newer Erieye ER aircraft and not the older Erieye system.

  • Shakeel

    Perhaps next time we would have the foresight to guard these strategic assets more carefully. It costs money – a luxury we do not have.

    • ahmria

      I think this goes without saying all military bases as well as critical infrastructure should be guarded heavily especially after the attacks against military installations over the past few years.

  • Abid

    Good deal…SAAB is the way forward

  • Shaheer Anjum

    Hopefully this time around there will be proper base security. Not only that, it’s high time that new bases away from population centres are constructed. Pakistani cities have a propensity to expand around cantonment areas.

  • Hashim Rasheed

    Pakistan is making sure that they have everything covered, and hopefully the JF-17 Block III would be integrated with these advances systems as well.

    There was a news item on Friday about PAC Kamra mounting weapons on the Super Mushshak. Any word on that Bilal???

    • We’ll have an article about the armed Super Mushshak tomorrow.

      • Shariq Shakil

        Will be waiting.

      • Navid Butt

        Why Pakistan,with 200 millions of population, nearly 40 odd universities and a ruthless and relentless enemy, never felt the need to produce capable engineers and scientists as compared to Sweden with population less than Karachi?

  • Aaif khan

    Next time the Indians will Target ZDK03

    • John Rue

      PETA based AWACS ZDK03 is threat to nobody.

      • Aaif khan

        Oh yes my dear, you are right, it is just for show off on military day parade. I really hope that PAF planning officials take your valuable inputs seriously. They are just wasting the tax payer money for a aircarft that is a Threat to nobody.

        • John Rue

          You know the difference between PETA and AESA ? Can you intelligently do a comparison between ZDK03 and Erieye. If ZDK03 had worked so well, PAF would have ordered 10 more. Musharraf agreed to buy them when Chinese made a personal request to him during his trip to China. PAF was not interested in pursuing it in the start.
          I would love to tell this to PAF officials but they live in their own world.

  • Good decision and selection of such a mature system was and is very important to heightenedand and guard the air boundaries of pakistan ,if possible to get some work at pac kamra regarding this system.

  • Headstrong

    S 400 should handle all these

    • Halz

      Similar to how the S-400 handled all those cruise missiles fired by the Americans a few months ago…oh wait…lol

      • Headstrong

        You’re most welcome to try

        • Aaif khan

          I think India have to install s400 close to the border to shoot the down the Aew&cs in pakistani airspace and that will be a easy target of pak’s stand off assets.

          • MT

            India is part of mtcr nd it can procure 400 km range S400 40N6 missiles which is denied to china

            For the AWACS flying at approx 10 km altitude,they can be engaged from 200 km range

            Second, s400 is mobile platform while pak doesn’t posses any sar satellites nd reconnaissance system to track moving objects inside India at run times

  • Irfan Ullah

    >> #Exclusively on Strategical Journal , China’s yet another AESA Radar being developed by 607 institute , the makers of KLJ-7A AESA Radar. This radar is unique in a way that it is equipped with Air cooling system , first of its kind in the world. Radar is being developed to replace the existing Pulse Doppler radars being used on J-10 , J-11 and possibly JF-17 Block 1 and 2.

    Pros : Can move in its position similar to Vixen E AESA radar which moves with the help of swash plates. Thus providing a high angle of coverage.

    Cons: Not as powerful as KLJ-7A.

    #SkyWing
    Admin can you please share details about this new AESA radar what scope it has for JF 17 block 3

  • Ali Afzal

    Well it’s good to know that we are buying new Saab Erieye aircrafts… I’ve also heard that PAC has started developing Super Mushak equipped with guided bombs.

  • umar rana

    i think we should go to turkey as well if they have a system like this AND i think they have it.

  • Aaif khan

    It wasn’t a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack is define as an activity that terrify peoples. It was an attack on strategic assets of the country, carried out by mercenaries sponsored by the Sovereign state. This is the new form of war. Very cheap in cost as compare to traditional war but yields the same result.

  • Aamir

    Interesting; Is the ZDK03 not as effective as the Erieye?

  • John Rue

    Why Erieye? Why not some other Chinese upgraded AESA or others offered around the world?

    • Steve

      Erieye is more effective and our enemies know it. Particularly Erieye ER has a 450 km detection range with GaN technology, and seriously potent ELINT.

  • MT

    Swedes r way ahead of china in aesa development. One of Swedish university developed GaN substrates aesa radar making Swedes the 3rd country after USA, Israel to achieve this milestone

    Gallium nitrates has much higher breakdown voltage nd operate at 2 times. Higher frequency allowing it 10 fold increase in power as compared to traditional gallium arsenide T/R elements.

    Anyway the eriye radar is based on traditional gallium arsenide aesa platforms .

    F16 can’t be linked with cheeni radars while jf17 isn’t potent platform in current form despite talks of it undergoing link with zdk

    Saab a Swedish company might have offered help linking f16 with their AWACS platform

    • U

      Thanks!
      What in ur opinion is the logic of using the ZDK03 over sea and the Erieye over land?

      • MT

        Eriye is more capable than zdk and it’s linked with f16 so it ll be used in active land zone battles.

        AWACS are a real time system and it can relay real time gps locations and speed of aircraft in vicinities to linked platform such as f16 in case of eriye

        zdk ll be used in low conflict sea zone where pak probably uses Northrop Grumman long range radar procured after 9/11 as part of FMS

        Lately jf17 integration with zdk is unknown.
        there r few questions on jf17 combat capability esp as it lags hobs, hmd and bvr capacity is constrained by radar range.

        So what good is Chinese awacs radar if you can’t use it with mirage and f16

  • Steve

    India will go all out to destroy these with another false flag operation blamed on TTP and at the same time blaming us and crowing in international fora about us ‘supporting terrorism’. We have huge numbers of infantry do we not. Use a huge force to guard these, and place them on airfields outside of bloody crowded areas. Kick out all the religious types from this force who may be vulnerable to extremist narrative. Make hardened shelters and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Think about bloody manpads India may provide to TTP so a huge exclusion zone is needed. Build physical infrastructure barriers. Need to spend some money but each rupee will be worth it. Basic force protection protocols are to be put in place and followed; not a casual subcontinental sleepy attitude. Get advice from SPD who are effective. Also a quiet word with Doval via a third party that any attack will be reciprocated in full. They don’t have many AWAC’s either and P8I is vulnerable as they have the same institutional issues we have, vociferous denials notwithstanding. Need to be open with these people and not take BS.

  • Steve

    Please boast about 40N6 when you actually get it

    • MT

      It ll be delivered by 2020 nd India ll get sme goodies from s500 as well.

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