Sweden is to donate its two airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to Ukraine, the country announced in its most recent military support package, with its ASC 890 platforms representing the first time Ukraine has received such a capability. An increased and accelerated order of new GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft for Sweden will also address a temporary loss in its own defence capability.

“Sweden will provide Ukraine with a completely new capability to strengthen its collective air defence,” stated the Swedish ministry of defence. “Ukraine’s capability to identify and engage targets at long range will be strengthened” by the two Erieye radar-equipped Saab 340 turborops, with Swedish minister for defence Pål Jonson explaining: “They will act as a force multiplier with the introduction of F-16”.

Crucially, the airborne Erieye radar system “covers a much wider area than [a] conventional ground-based system does,” explains Saab, with the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar able to cover an effective area of over 500,000 square km horizontally and over 60,000ft vertically. Across water, it is also able to identify a jet ski-sized target at distances of up to 450m, while communicating with other allies (including F-16s) via Link-16 (the NATO standard military tactical datalink network).

The pledge of the two ASC 890s forms part of Stockholm’s “largest military support package to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion began” (with this round’s support totalling SEK 13.3 billion / $1.2 billion), which also includes a “holistic solution” for training, technical equipment and methodological support.

Although the donation will entail “a temporary decrease of Sweden’s defence capability,” the defence ministry intends to procure an additional Saab S 106 GlobalEye aircraft, as well as expediting the delivery of the existing two orders (placed in 2022) into service. The first Bombardier Global 6000-based AEW&C aircraft is already undergoing its approximately three year-long conversion process at Saab’s Linköping facility, ahead of its previously stated entry into service in 2027.

In a statement, Saab confirmed that it had not yet received an order for a third GlobalEye from Sweden, although “deliveries of the two previously ordered GlobalEye aircraft are currently ongoing” and that the manufacturer has “a close dialogue with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) about how best to meet their requirements”. Regarding the ASC 890 donations, Saab concluded that it is proud “Sweden can provide Ukraine with this unique capacity and look forward to continuing to back Sweden’s mission to support Ukraine”.
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