Saab's latest military aircraft has completed its maiden flight. The GlobalEye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system set off from Saab's airfield in Linköping, Sweden on Thursday with Saab Experimental Test Pilot Magnus Fredriksson at the controls. The modified business jet flew for one hour and 46 minutes to collect data to verify aircraft performance and associated modeling.

The March 14 flight comes less than a month after GlobalEye was revealed to the media, after which it underwent a series of ground tests as well as high and low speed taxiing tests. No details have been given about the exact specifications of the GlobalEye, but it is based on the Bombardier Global Express 6000 business jet, which has already been modified for military service as the Royal Air Force Raytheon Sentinel and the United States Air Force E-11A.

If it follows previous designs, the GlobalEye will have a flight crew of four plus mission specialists in ergonomic sideways seating and, according to Saab, enjoys low cabin noise levels. Measuring 99 ft (30 m) long with a wingspan of 94 ft (29 m), it's powered by two Rolls-Royce BR710 A2-20 turbofans and, if it is similar to the 6000, will have a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (487 kt, 902 km/h) and a cruising altitude of 41,000 ft (12,300 m) as well as a takeoff distance of 6,500 ft (2,000 m), which allows it to operate from smaller airfields.

One strong selling point of the GlobalEye is its flight endurance of over 11 hours combined with its ability to carry out air, maritime and ground surveillance using its suite of instruments. These include the new Erieye ER (Extended Range) radar that can detect small targets like jets skis or periscopes at long distances, the Adaptive AESA radar that can focus on targets of interest even in severe clutter, and a long-range, wide-area GMTI Radar that detects moving objects through images.

The GlobalEye will first serve with the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces as the Swing Role Surveillance System (SRSS). Saab says the aircraft can also be used for search and rescue, border surveillance, and special military operations.

"The first flight is the second major milestone for the GlobalEye programme within a very short space of time," says Anders Carp, Senior Vice President and head of Saab's business area Surveillance. "Yet again we have demonstrated that we are delivering on our commitments and that we are on track with our production of the world's most advanced swing-role surveillance system."

The video below introduces the Saab GlobalEye.

Source: Saab

View gallery - 6 images