SAAB S100B AEW&C Argus
The SAAB 340 Cityliner has been a great success as a medium sized turboprop regional airliner, achieving more commercial aircraft sales for the company than any other civil aircraft. Designed in partnership with Fairchild, the SAAB 340 can carry 35 passengers, has a range of 1490km and first flew in Jan 83. The Fairchild version of the aircraft is known as the Fairchild Metro III. An improved version of the aircraft with more powerful engines is designated the SAAB 340B and production of the aircraft eventually ceased in 1999.
Rather than purchase the expensive Boeing E-3D AWACS, the Swedish Air Force decided to adapt the SAAB 340 to meet their specific AEW&C requirement. Six aircraft were ordered, the first of which flew in 1994. Four of the aircraft are fitted with the Ericsson PS-890 Erieye side looking phased array radar, with 200 solid-state modules mounted in a long narrow, non-rotating, antenna above the fuselage. From its operational altitude of 20,000ft, the Erieye S-band, frequency agile pulse Doppler 3 GHz radar has a range of 300-400km (200+nm) against fighter sized targets, including against clutter and also has a sea surveillance mode. The 'look' angle on each side is about 120 degrees, leaving the two 60 degree sectors of the nose and tail uncovered. One great advantage of using an electronically scanned antenna is that particular sectors containing targets can be scanned frequently, whilst the radar continues to monitor the other sectors. In addition, single sectors of interest can be scanned in different modes at the same time. The aircraft can remain on station 180km from its base for 8 hours. The remaining two aircraft are fitted for, but not with the Erieye radar and are used as transport aircraft until an increased requirement for additional AEW&C aircraft emerges.
The Argus can be fitted with four multifunction workstations for airborne controllers. However, in service with the Swedish Air Force the aircraft does not carry controllers, instead the onboard automated systems datalinks the information the radar receives to ground stations, which in turn can transmit commands back to the aircraft. In this configuration, the Argus functions as a highly efficient airborne radar and is completely integrated with the Swedish Air Defence system (StriC-90). Delivery of the six aircraft to the Swedish Air Force took place between 1997 and 1999 and the aircraft are operated by F16M at Malmslatt.
The Hellenic Air Force (Greece) has decided to acquire an AEW&C capability and has selected four Embraer EMB-145 aircraft equipped with the Erieye radar. To train the Greek crews in the operation of the radar, two Swedish Air Force SAAB S100B AEW&C Argus aircraft have been loaned to the HAF pending the arrival of the Embraer EMB-145 aircraft.