Saab has dramatically enhanced its Swordfish maritime patrol aircraft, adding increased capability for the anti-submarine warfare and maritime-strike roles.
Revealing the company’s updated Swordfish design on 10 May, head of marketing and sales for airborne ISR Emilien Saindon said the heavily adapted business jet – using Bombardier’s Global 6000 airframe – would have greater weapons carrying ability than the design announced in February 2016.
Four under-wing pylons will each carry a maximum load of 770kg (1,700lb), he says, enabling the platform to deploy stores including Eurotorp MU90 torpedoes and Saab RBS15 Mk3 anti-ship missiles. By using a twin-round pylon on the inboard station, the aircraft will be able to carry six torpedoes, with no need for an internal weapons bay.
Referring to the increased offensive load, Saab’s director, marketing and sales for the product, Gary Shand, says it is “no longer the Achilles heel of this aircraft”. The updates have been made following discussion with potential customers for the system, the company says.
For anti-submarine warfare operations, the Global 6000 also gains a magnetic anomaly detection boom and an increased sonobuoy carriage and dispenser fit.
Saindon points to high demand for maritime patrol aircraft capability in the Asia-Pacific region as holding particular interest for the company, and confirms that it is focusing its promotional activities on the Global 6000. It has previously also proposed the Swordfish system for potential integration with the Bombardier Q400 and Saab 2000 twin-turboprops.
Saab says it could deliver an operational aircraft within about three years of signing a deal with a customer. The Swordfish offering benefits from 70% commonality with the company’s Global Eye airborne early warning, land and maritime surveillance system, which is in development for the United Arab Emirates and also uses the Global 6000 airframe.
Saindon says Saab has seen “a huge amount of interest in the product”, and is in discussions with a number of potential customers. The company refers to a 12h flight endurance at up to 37,000ft, with the Swordfish able to remain on station for 7.5h at 5,000ft while 1,000nm (1,850km) away from its operating base without carrying external stores.
Saab claims that its design will cost 70% of a Boeing 737-based P-8, but offers a 50% saving in lifecycle costs. “We see this aircraft as the smart alternative to the P-8,” says Shand.
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