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Saab Global

Swordfish punches above its weight for maritime ISR

5 min read

Saab’s Swordfish maritime patrol aircraft will feature on Saab Australia’s exhibition stand at Pacific 2017 in Sydney next month to highlight its C4ISR capabilities, combat roles and missions for the Asia Pacific region.



Swordfish is unique in its strategic multi-role capabilities. It’s a true performer on long-range patrols or search-and-rescue missions, and complex anti-submarine and anti-surface unit warfare tasks on the same mission, which suits the geographical and political considerations of the region,” says Richard Hjelmberg, Head of Marketing & Sales, Airborne ISR  for Saab’s Asia Pacific market area. “ Saab predicts a steady trend for fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft to match the growing proliferation of submarines which is particularly relevant for Asia Pacific which is expected to have 100 submarines operating by 2020”.

Swordfish has an effective overland ISR (intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance) capability which can be easily integrated into existing operation and support infrastructures. The mission system combines proven, operational COTS sensors from several suppliers, with Saab’s own specialist electronic warfare and C4I mission management systems.

The advanced and tightly integrated sensor package is displayed on interchangeable work stations with an intelligent degree of automation and system support, meaning more can be achieved with fewer operators.

Threats and challenges are constantly morphing. Submarines are quieter.  Piracy and border violations are on the increase. Choosing the best tool for the mission isn’t easy as each scenario is different with its own set of requirements. These are typical situations aligned with Saab’s mission of keeping people and society safe.

“Swordfish is equipped with the latest sensor technology to give it the flexibility it needs to meet each of these different operational scenarios;” says Richard, “ultimately, ISR, search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare”.

Swordfish provides definitive cross-domain awareness; from littoral waters to the open ocean, and all places in between.

Mission: Maritime ISR

To fully know what is out there one must be there. Swordfish can arrive on task and quickly raise a local maritime picture by using its 360 degree AESA radar, supported by other sensors like AIS. Subsequently, the aircraft’s command and control system provides intelligent automated support, to make decision making a clean, efficient process where the target of interest can be clearly located. A comprehensive communications suite sends mission critical information to the air operations centre in real-time for an accurate, up-to-date sea picture which is distributed to everyone who needs it.

Mission: Search & Rescue

By nature, search and rescue operations are life threatening and time critical, sometimes many kilometres from land. Having the capacity to reach an area quickly with specialist stores, can be the difference between life and death. This is a mission for Swordfish. Once the target is located by radar, electro-optics or perhaps visually by an operator through the large observer windows, the aircraft will position to drop life-saving equipment. Equipped with a wide array of communications, Swordfish masters airborne command and control for large-scale incidents, coordinating on-scene rescue assets whilst interfacing with shore-based agencies.

Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare

Modern, super-quiet submarines are increasingly difficult to find, locate and track. Armed with the latest acoustic technology, a significant sonobuoy and torpedo payload, Saab’s Swordfish is matched to resolve the challenge. It will report, intervene or as in any other scenario, take full on-scene command as communication central, whilst still tracking the target. As the designer and manufacturer of the next generation air independent propulsion submarine, Saab understands the demands of modern day anti-submarine warfare. We are the only company manufacturing submarines as well as maritime patrol aircraft so, we know all about their countermeasure and detection avoiding strategies which gives us the edge in these capabilities.

 “Saab is the only organisation in the world designing and building strategic defence assets to defend from the heights of the skies to the depths of the oceans supported with our radar, sensors and systems integration experience in every domain. This puts us in a unique position to supply effective, cost-efficient, state-of-the-art maritime patrol aircraft systems for a global market”, says Richard.

Saab has 80 years’ experience in aircraft manufacturing and systems integration with the iconic Gripen fighter, Erieye AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) and today’s maritime patrol aircraft solution, Swordfish.


Further information
Mandy Barlow, communications manager at Pacific 2017
+61(0) 430 775 004

Saab Australia


Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions within military defence and civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents around the world. Through innovative, collaborative and pragmatic thinking, Saab develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs. 

Saab Australia develops advanced defence, security and civil aviation systems for domestic and international markets. Saab Australia is Australia's leading capability integrator now celebrating thirty years’ experience across a wide range of defence and civil projects.