Saab AB has signed a contract with the Swedish government through the Swedish government’s defence procurement agency, the Defence Materiel Administration. The contract will govern the installation of a radar upgrade package for the Swedish Navy’s five Visby-class Corvettes, alongside the provision of Giraffe 4A multifunctional AESA radar systems to Swedish Army’s Halmstad based Air Defence Regiment commanded by Colonel Mikael Beck. The supply of the 4A units to the Swedish Army will be combined with a delivery of Giraffe C4I command and control systems, to manage the battlefield integration of the 4A radars with other battlespace C4ISR platforms. The multi-unit order submitted to Sweden’s Saab AB will cost the Swedish ministry of defence SEK 1.2B (£184.3M). The navy’s radar upgrade programme will see the existing 1970s vintage Sea Giraffe AMB 3D multifunctional radar, modified through an unspecified life-extension project. The Giraffe 4A AESA radar supplied to the Swedish Army will provide the nation’s land forces with a mobile air defence capability, for the coordination of air defence platforms to deny aerial supremacy to enemy air forces. The platform delivery will primarily effect the Air Defence Regiment’s 61st and 62nd air defence battalions, whose role it will be to correctly assimilate and utilize the new technology. The delivery timetable for the contract will run from 2020 until 2025, by which time all ordered hardware should be in Swedish hands. The signing of the contract is part of Sweden’s attempts to prepare its armies for a conventional engagement with the Russian Federation, an objective which saw it reinstitute conscription in 2017 after a seven year hiatus.
The Giraffe 4A active electronically scanned array (AESA) 3D radar is characterized by multi-directional beam-forming using phase shifters to transform a single radio frequency signal into multiple signals. The multiple signals are then vulnerable to alteration in the form of frequency and direction modification. The Giraffe 4A uses these principles to process 2 – 3 GHz S-band ultra/super high frequency (UHF/SHF) radio waves. The Giraffe 4A’s SHF waves are formed with large bandwidths allowing the reception of dense target data loads produced by radars granted object identification roles. The system relies on the processing of data to produce a horizontal coordination system (HCS) as a form of 3D air map. The HCS enabled 3D map provides target data via allowing the computer to conceptualize a dual hemisphere sphere. The hemisphere line is identified as the horizon with the heighest point of the sphere designated as the zenith. The radar’s target will occupy a space between the horizon and zenith the calculation of which will provide the altitude, permitting air-defence weapons ranging or the activation of base early warning systems. The Giraffe 4A land based AESA 3D radar is known for its processing speed, producing a 360 degree scan of the airspace every 0.1 second at 8Hz. A total sweep of the spherical air map is executed once a second. The impressive function speed is in part due to the inclusion of high electron mobility enabling Gallium Nitride, speeding up the transmission of electrical currents within the platform, producing excellent functional alacrity.
The highly mobile abilities of the Giraffe 4A is one of the system’s best selling points. The mobility is guaranteed via a deployment time of less than ten minuets and a teardown time of five. The device can be moved to any part of the world being wholly suitable for aerial transportation. The radar system’s size necessitates the use of the Soviet built IL-76, American constructed C-17 and European manufactured A400M strategic lift aircraft, to facilitate purchases of the system outside of Sweden. The system’s benefits are completed with an impressive operational endurance of 104 days (2,500 hours), while repair of a major fault requires just 45 minuets. The Giraffe 4A requires a crew of two for optimal battlefield effect. The naval element of the contract will see the five strong Visby-class corvette fleet upgrade their out of fashion Sea Giraffe AMG radars. The Visby-class are state of the art stealth optimized vessels first constructed in 2000 and delivered to the Swedish navy in 2009. The class’s construction was undertaken by Saab’s own Kockums shipyard based in Malmo, as part of their commitment to being the chief producers of defence materials to the Swedish military establishment. The upgrading of the onboard radar will bring it in line with its other high technology features, mostly geared towards providing excellent stealth performance. The contract’s successful execution will continue the close connection between Saab and the Swedish government, in addition to solidifying their reputation as providers of excellent battlefield situational awareness platforms.