Can you tell us what makes your surveillance system unique?

Erik Winberg: GlobalEye is the first and only airborne early warning and control system that covers all domains – air, maritime and land – as a multi or swing-role solution. Moreover, it is currently on contract and in production.

This unique capability comes from the fusion of all on-board sensors, including the key sensor called Erieye ER (extended range). Detecting low-observable air targets at long range is not easy. It requires strong radar – meaning a big antenna with high power. We use new gallium nitride technology to enable the large amounts of power required. This is also the reason why we get such good, long-range performance across all domains.

What future challenges do you anticipate in long-range surveillance?

There are several: firstly, the future threat situation may require greater stand-off distances, and secondly, threats are becoming more difficult to detect, since they are becoming smaller in the eyes of the sensor. By taking these challenges into account, one comes to the conclusion that defence sector clients need to have a platform that can fly high, so they can still observe from long stand-off distances. The industry then needs a smarter and more powerful radar sensor, which excludes smaller sensors flying on smaller platforms at medium altitudes for this mission.

The vast amount of data collected is an advantage of having such a capable system. This data needs to be analysed and disseminated in an automated and efficient way. It is all about shortening the observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) loop. We are seeing more AI technology in the industry, especially ‘weak AI’, which relates to AI that is based on statistical methods. In military systems, humans need to be in control of the decisions and be 100% assured of the validity of the information shown by the data. This is a key design requirement at Saab.

Why is it important to cover all three domains in one system?

Flexibility – today’s threat is found across all domains. A mission can start with surveillance in one domain and then continue in another; for example, following a ship that launches a helicopter, which flies to the shore, lands and offloads cargo onto trucks. Clients then need surveillance capability for all three domains. With GlobalEye, they do not need to bring in another dedicated asset to solve the mission. However, and most importantly, it enables a commander to flexibly use the asset where it is needed; for instance, in a crisis, it is vital to monitor the ground and air situation on the other side of a border. Later on, it might be more important to protect sea lanes and perform long-range air surveillance.

How does GlobalEye accomplish that?

GlobalEye’s complete – and unmatched – sensor suite covers everything from long-range air surveillance radar down to electro-optics and signals intelligence. In one platform, all of this can stay aloft for more than 11 hours when combined with complete data fusion, command and control (C2), which identify cooperative and non-cooperative targets. The system’s design focuses on different types of targets across the three domains, covering everything from low-observable air vehicles through to cruise missiles and larger aircraft, as well as periscopes, jet skis, ships, trucks and small vehicles. This is how we fulfil the client’s specific requirements.

What does Saab offer its clients?

Saab delivers complex systems on time and on budget to clients across 100 countries. We also have a broad product portfolio that includes submarines, ground -based radars and C2, plus fighter aircrafts and airborne surveillance solutions, such as GlobalEye. Saab, therefore, has the advantages of exquisite in-house competence and a deep knowledge of warfare across all domains and subsystems. This explains why we are so good at making complex systems. We all know the devil is in the details, and we know all the details.