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Saab Global

Drug surveillance in the jungle

3 min read

How do you spot a gang of illegal drug smugglers in the Amazon rainforest, a tropical wilderness that’s probably about the best possible hiding place in the world? The answer: with state-of-the-art airborne surveillance systems from Saab.

Violence, corruption and brutal human rights violations… The worldwide war on drugs is an outdrawn struggle against the lucrative illicit markets dominated by organized crime. For example, the illegal narcotics industry in Latin America accounts for hundreds of billions of US dollars every year.

The illegal drugs are routed through Mexico and Central America to the US; and via West Africa, for example, on to Europe.

Drug trade is also closely linked to violent crime, with drug trafficking organisations or cartels battling for control of territory used for the cultivation, importation and transportation of illicit drugs.

To help counter their narcotics efforts, Brazil and Mexico were the first Latin American nations to invest in Saab’s airborne radar surveillance solutions. These are also known as Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) solutions and consist of Saab's Erieye radar and a suite of other sensors integrated on a aircrafts. Being very high up in the air means that the radar range becomes much longer.


Helping to combat crime

The military and law enforcement agencies need key assets like these with long-range radar systems if they are to intercept illegal drug traffickers – especially in a vast tropical wilderness like the Amazon where it’s easy for these groups to operate without interference in the remotest areas that cannot even be reached by car. By preventing drug trafficking, Saab is also contributing to increased security in society, since such illegal activities undermine the stability of a country.

The authorities need to be able to act swiftly to combat crime, and Saab’s airborne surveillance systems – which are already used in Brazil, for example – have already proved invaluable in helping them to do so.

These systems give the ability to scan vast areas of land, making it possible to detect illegal activity (such as a plane taking off from an unofficial runway) from afar, make decisions and take action to counter any threat based on real-time information.

An effective means of creating the highest possible level of situational awareness and boosting safety and security for society, Saab’s airborne surveillance systems can also be used to monitor economic zones to counter illegal fishing, to boost situational awareness during events, and to assist in search and rescue missions.

Saab’s airborne surveillance solutions, which include Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C and the new GlobalEye AEW&C solution, are currently in operation in eight different countries all over the world.