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Saab Global

Enabling air superiority from the ground

5 min read

The ground combat environment is rapidly changing. While traditional air defence systems and strategies have been focusing on providing long-range capabilities against threats such as fighter jets and supersonic missiles, todays’ new, agile and equally dangerous short-range threats have not been addressed.

Lessons learned show that in today’s increasingly complex combat environment where security threats are constantly evolving, traditional air defence systems cannot fully protect forces, secure their freedom of manoeuvre or create real-time control. Claes Trulsson, Senior Director at Saab’s Business Area Surveillance, tells us more.

“Fighters, helicopters and missiles are still a severe threat to ground forces. But the threat from small, slow and low flying drones, short-range missiles and guided munitions is growing rapidly and you need short-range air defence to acquire the time and tools to detect and defeat these threats.”

And he continues, “A truly effective short-range Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) solution must also provide flexibility and be able to operate in conventional war operations, in combination with tactical manoeuvre in severe conditions as well as in ad-hoc, asymmetric scenarios.”

“Saab develops solutions ranging all the way from sensors to missile systems and command and control systems. And because we are also a large system integrator, we have the knowledge and resources in-house to connect anything related to GBAD. Customers around the world rely on our GBAD solutions built around state-of-the-art, high-performance sensors, command & control and missile systems”, says Claes Trulsson.

A wider definition of detection

The ability to detect threats is essential in any air defence system. On the modern battlefield, where threats not only emerge from the air, but also from the ground or sea surface, detection has a much wider meaning.

With that in mind, Saab developed a sensor solution that combines large volume air surveillance with rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) detection capabilities. The solution also provides small target detection in combination with an enhanced low, slow and small detection function.


“The enhanced low, slow and small detection function – or ELSS as we call it – makes it possible to distinguish man-made objects like drones from birds and other slow-moving objects of no interest. By having all these simultaneous capabilities, it´s possible to achieve superior situation awareness and stay ahead of the opponent”, says Claes Trulsson.

The Giraffe family of radars

The sensor range includes the Giraffe 4A, Giraffe AMB and Giraffe 1X radar solutions. The solutions’ different detection capabilities scale down from Giraffe 4A with the longest range, Giraffe AMB with half that detection range, and Giraffe 1X that has half the detection range of Giraffe AMB.

Giraffe 4A

Giraffe 4A

Giraffe 4A is a multifunction radar in a compact solution able to detect both airborne targets and ballistic targets – simultaneously. With fast track initiation and high update rates in combination with engagement quality data, Giraffe 4A provides comprehensive situational awareness without compromising awareness or performance. Giraffe 4A target data can be used to engage the target directly without the need of handover to other specific fire control radar.

Giraffe AMB

Giraffe AMB, UK, Village

Giraffe AMB provides air surveillance capability, decision support and interoperability in the same platform. Its range performance is perfectly suited to support short to medium range air defence fire assets. The integrated command and control system makes Giraffe AMB capable to act as an autonomous command post for all air defence units within a brigade. It provides freedom of manoeuvre even if support from higher levels are unavailable.

Giraffe 1X

GBAD image C3 focus

Giraffe 1X is a compact, high-performance, multi-mission 3D radar for short-range surveillance and ground based air defence. It is flexible and easily integrated into any platform, such as mobile units together with a GBAD command and control system, thereby supporting the manoeuvre battalion with situational awareness and the ability to detect threats such as drones, ballistic targets and attack helicopters – also when the radar is on the move.

Contributing to the bigger picture

Saab’s GBAD solutions also provide ground forces with the ability to undertake air surveillance and forward this information to the air force thereby contributing to a better understanding of the situational picture and enabling the air force to use its resources where they are most effective.
Ensuring readiness
To truly protect forces, secure their freedom of manoeuvre and support air superiority, you need solutions that are ready and available 24/7.
“With more than 60 years of experience in air defence, we know that performance without availability is worth nothing. This insight is the guiding star in our work to provide smart, innovative and efficient air defence from the ground”, Claes Trulsson concludes.

A complete air defence solution

Saab offers complete solutions to detect and handle airborne threats. The Mobile Short-Range Air Defence (MSHORAD) solution is one such unique solutions. It includes the Giraffe 1X radar, the C2 tactical engagement system and the RBS 70 NG Remote Weapon System.