Parked quietly a little behind some of the bigger planes at the Dubai air show is a Saab 2000 aircraft with an Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) radar atop. Only the grey-on-grey fin flash reveals that it belongs to the Pakistan air force, which is showing it for the first time.
Saab will not reveal how many of the aircraft were ordered in the SEK 7bn ($1.04bn) Oct. 18, 2005, contract, but five seems like an educated guess, given the number on the fin: 10025. The first aircraft was delivered in 2010.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have also bought two of the Swedish company's Erieye systems but on a refurbished Saab 340 platform like the one used by Sweden and Thailand. That came as a surprise order at the last Dubai show, and according to Sten Soderstrom, Saab's vice president for sales and marketing, the UAE are looking to buy more; but no announcement has yet been forthcoming. Sweden's ambassador to the UAE, Magnus Scholdtz, said earlier this year that “we've offered to sell [them] four more such aircraft. . . .”
There is a third Erieye customer in the Middle East, although not identified by Saab, and it is believed to be Saudi Arabia. The SEK4.5bn ($670m) contract points to more than one aircraft but fewer than five being purchased in a deal briefly announced by Saab in October 2010.
Photo credits: Christina Mackenzie