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Pakistan Quietly Inducts a New Erieye AEW&C System
February 29, 2024

Pakistan Quietly Inducts a New Erieye AEW&C System

On 03 January, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) revealed that it procured a new Saab 2000-based Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

The new aircraft was given the serial “23-058” and was shown as part of a wider ceremony celebrating the induction of several new aircraft types, notably the Chengdu J-10CE Dragon multirole fighters, ex-Belgian Air Force C-130H Hercules airlifters, and other logistics and auxiliary aircraft.

The Saab Erieye is an active electronically scanned array (AESA)-based system. It offers a detection range of up to 450 km. Through data-link connectivity, the Erieye can pass its sensor data to friendly air and ground assets. The overall Erieye AEW&C system also features five mission operator consoles for operators to coordinate between the AEW&C and connected air assets, such as fighter aircraft.

With unit ‘23058’ the PAF’s Erieye fleet has grown to seven to nine aircraft. Quwa was able to visually verify seven aircraft, but public records list serials for eight active units.

To date, the PAF has acquired the Erieye across three orders. The PAF signed its first order in 2006 for six AEW&Cs (plus one standard Saab 2000) for $1.15 billion US. However, this order was reduced to four aircraft due to the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. The cost dropped to $186 million, indicating that each Erieye (not inclusive of training and logistics costs) was priced at $93 million US in 2007.

In 2012, three of the four aircraft were damaged resulting from a terrorist attack on Minhas Air Base, of which one was written off. The PAF internally restored the other two and returned them to service in 2015 and 2016. In its 2015-2016 yearbook, the Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) disclosed a “recovery” of a “fourth AEW&C system” at a cost of $130.39 million US.

Thus, by 2016, the PAF restored its Erieye AEW&C fleet to four aircraft. In 2017, then PAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman, revealed Air Headquarters (AHQ) ordered another three Erieye AEW&C aircraft.[1] In 2016, Saab disclosed that it received an AEW&C order valued at $132 million US, and then a $153 million US order in 2017. Combined, the cost was $285 million US, which (based on the unit pricing in 2007) would cover three systems.

The delivery of the ‘Batch-II’ Erieye AEW&Cs were recorded in previously public export-import logs – the PAF took delivery of radar systems and aircraft from Saab in February 2017 as well as in April and May 2018. In its 2017-2018 yearbook, the MoDP recorded the purchase of a ‘sixth’ Erieye AEW&C for $94.95 million US. This ‘Batch-II’ order was likely completed in 2019.

In May 2020, Saab revealed it secured another AEW&C sale for $160.5 million US from an unnamed buyer, with deliveries taking place between 2020 and 2023. This customer was revealed to be the PAF as it inducted an Erieye with the serial numbers ’20-057’ and (in December 2023) ’23-058.’

Tallying Pakistan’s Erieye AEW&C Systems

Quwa examined the serial numbers of the PAF’s Saab 2000-based Erieye AEW&C systems. Using the visual verification, Quwa confirmed that the PAF has seven Erieye systems from the 2006, 2017, and 2020 orders. However, the stated serial records indicate that the PAF has nine Erieye systems…

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For more insights on the Pakistan Air Force:

[1] Alan Warnes. “Pakistan to get more Erieyes”. Air Forces Monthly. 19 May 2017. URL: http://www.airforcesmonthly.com/2017/05/19/pakistan-to-get-more-erieyes/ (Last Accessed: 24 February 2018).

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