Warplanes: Pakistan's Swedish Delight

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June 1, 2007: After years of haggling, and delays because of political differences. Pakistan has finally closed a deal to obtain six AWACS aircraft from Sweden. The system is a Saab 2000 airliner mounting a Swedish Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar (which consists of thousands of tiny radars that can be independently aimed in different directions). This is similar to the AESA radar used on the American JSTARS aircraft, enabling it to locate vehicles moving on the ground. The Swedish AESA is cheaper, because its built like a long bar, mounted on top of the aircraft. This means the radar can only see, in a 120 degree arc, off both sides of the aircraft. A 60 degree arc in the front and back is uncovered. The radar can spot large aircraft out to nearly 500 kilometers, and more common fighter sized aircraft at about 300 kilometers. The Saab 2000 is a 22 ton, twin prop aircraft, with a cruising speed of 660 kilometers an hour. The aircraft can stay in the air about four hours per sortie. For a billion dollars, Pakistan is getting six Saab 2000s with the Ericsson PS-890 Erieye radar, and another Saab 2000s configured for regular (fifty seats) passenger service. The radar can also spot ships at sea, and thus can also fill in for maritime reconnaissance. Given Indias problems with AWACS (delays in developing their own AESA radar), Pakistan will, for a few years, have a larger AWACS force than arch-enemy India.

 


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