COLOGNE, Germany — Saab has delivered its first GlobalEye early-warning plane to the United Arab Emirates, the company announced Wednesday.
The aircraft arrived in Dubai during the late morning of April 29 following a brief stopover in Bulgaria on its way from Sweden, Saab CEO Micael Johansson said during a call with reporters.
The delivery caps four and a half years of work since the UAE and Saab signed a contract for three of the planes — modified Bombardier 6000 business jets equipped with Saab’s Erieye long-range radar and other surveillance sensors.
Saab is advertising GlobalEye as able to provide ground, air and maritime surveillance in a single package.
“The delivery of the first GlobalEye is a major milestone for Saab, but also an important step in the history of airborne early warning and control,” Johansson said. “We have set a new standard for the market, and I am proud to say that we have delivered the most advanced airborne surveillance solution in the world to the United Arab Emirates.”
The company, which has been spared from work stoppages in Sweden caused elsewhere by the coronavirus pandemic, had to take “a number of mitigating actions” to prevent the virus from spreading during the actual handover and during the weeks leading up to it, Johansson said.
The measures included testing workers for the virus, quarantining them if warranted and retesting them afterward, according to Johansson.
Saab is still working to produce the additional two aircraft owed under the 2015 contract. Those would be delivered “rather shortly,” the executive told reporters, declining to be more specific.
The company is eyeing the potential sale of yet two more GlobalEye aircraft to the UAE. Such an option is included in the original deal, though details have yet to be finalized.
Johansson cited Finland and South Korea as countries also interested in the GlobalEye technology.
If Saab manages to drum up additional customers, future offerings are slated to include the Global 6500 jet as carriers, he said.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News.