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Saab Global

Detecting smugglers in the jungle with technology from Sweden

4 min read

In Latin America’s remote jungles there is an ongoing struggle between public authorities and drugs cartels. Cocaine labs and landing strips for small, light aircraft are easy to hide in the lush greenery and they are also easy to move. Authorities face a huge challenge detecting these, and that’s where the Swedish airborne surveillance solutions from Saab can contribute.

To know what’s going on around them, governments in Latin America need a clear picture of potential threats and illegal activities taking place for example at sea and in the civilian and military airspace. Detailed and versatile situational awareness, detecting movements at sea and in the air, is key in order to achieve this.

With Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) solutions, you put surveillance radar antennas on aircraft that fly at high altitudes. This enables you to move the radar horizon much further away than is possible with ground-based radar systems on land or sea, allowing you to see much further.

- An early warning aircraft patrolling at some 10,000 metres has a radar horizon way over 400 kilometres away. And our systems can spot objects as small as jet skis, says Bo Torrestedt.

In use in Latin America

Saab is one of the most widely used AEW&C suppliers with experience of the challenges found in the Latin American region, with AEW&C systems already in place in Brazil and Mexico, countries which have faced problems with smuggling and threats to natural resources, such as deforestation and illegal mining. By gathering information and detecting movements in the air and at sea in remote and inaccessible terrain, the authorities can get an overview of the movement pattern of these criminal groups. The presence of the AEW&C also has a preventative effect since the criminals fear being detected.

AEW&C as an asset for society

There are many examples of how Saab’s AEW&C solutions are used in different countries. While the solutions are normally purchased for primarily military purposes, they also have a number of civil applications which can be put to use in peacetime as well as during times of conflict.

They can be used in search- and rescue missions to coordinate helicopters or ships ensuring all units have the information they need to perform their tasks. Some countries use the AEW&C solutions to detect the movements of pirates and smugglers. Others use them to detect and prevent illegal fishing, and to protect economic zones.

- With our AEW&C solutions, one single system can be used for multiple purposes, Torrestedt says. This is in addition to having control of the airspace.


Military applications

Saab’s AEW&C solutions can be used as command- and control centres to support air combat in conflict situations. This allows the user to locate helicopters, sea targets, missiles and aircraft targets at all altitudes. Saab’s AEW&C solutions can be rapidly integrated into an existing military infrastructure due to extensive interoperable voice and data communication, ensuring information superiority by ensuring connectivity across the nation’s all assets. They truly work as force multipliers.

Proven technology

The proven Erieye AEW&C solution is used on a variety of aircraft platforms, including the Saab 2000 aircraft. Saab’s new GlobalEye solution uses the Global 6000 aircraft, providing state-of-the art airborne surveillance.

Countries currently using Saab’s AEW&C solutions include Mexico, Brazil, Greece, Pakistan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Sweden. Among them, they are using a total of more than 20 systems.


GlobalEye is Saab's all new AEW&C solution, combining the new Erieye ER (Extended Range), radar and the Global 6000 high-end business jet together with a comprehensive suite of sensors forming a unique multi-sensor solution ready for swing-role missions in the air, - maritime- and ground domains.

Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C

Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C is the well proven solution for air and sea surveillance developed over the years using spiral development. It is based on the Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft with very long endurance and high speed, requiring very short fields for take-off and landing.