Pakistan To Receive Swedish ERIEYE AEW&C System And SAAB Aircrafts
July 14, 2004: Pakistan has taken a big leap to strengthen its fast depleting air power by securing a nod from Sweden to sell Islamabad an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS), informed sources said. This state-of-the-art system will also augment Pakistan Navy’s existing potential for maritime and tactical surveillance, the sources added. Close to final approval is Pakistan’s decision to acquire 14 SAAB 2000 aircraft from Sweden. Seven of these aircraft will be dedicated for the PAF’s AEW&CS while the remaining seven will be acquired by the PIA to replace its fleet of Fokker aircraft, which have already been grounded, the sources said.
Several Fokker-related incidents, including the last year’s crash that killed the then chief of air staff, air marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, and 17 other PAF officials, the PIA had decided last year to sell its fleet of 11 aircraft and replace them with compatible ones. The seven SAAB 2000 that will replace the ageing Fokkers on the PIA’s heavily subsidized socio-economic routes will help the airline save about Rs 200 million on the subsidized routes that cost the PIA about Rs 400 million every year. Because of the composite nature of the deal, the PIA would pay only $45 million for the seven SAAB aircraft as against the $98 million for the French ATR and $91 million for the American Dash-8 that will cost about $98 million. For its part the Swedish government has provided a guarantee for the smooth supply of SAAB spare parts as long as the aircraft is flown anywhere in the world, the PIA sources confirmed. Six hundred of such planes are being flown all over the world.
The SAAB aircraft for the PAF will be equipped with ERIEYE AEW&C system which can manage airborne early warning; intercept communication; airspace management; surveillance and control borders; detect illegal shipment of weapons and drugs; and coordinate search and rescue operations. It will be two years before the PAF receives its first AEW&C system. The deal would cost Pakistan about $1.7 billion (approximately Rs 90 billion) during the next five years, and it will constitute the biggest defence purchase by the Musharraf administration. During his recently concluded visit to Sweden, President Pervez Musharraf is understood to have held extensive discussions with the Swedish leadership on Pakistan’s interest in the AEW&CS, sources familiar with the discussions in Sweden said.
Sweden had earlier turned down Pakistan’s requests on the reasons ranging from democracy to child labour. Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sa’adat Kaleem will be visiting Sweden to further negotiate the deal later this month. The sources said the AEW&CS would not only help Pakistan to counter-balance the Indian acquisition of the Israeli Phalcon airborne surveillance system, it will boast the Pakistan Air Force’s and the Navy’s reaction capabilities by providing early and specific warnings. In the Rs 7.6 trillion defence budget announced this week, the Indian government has earmarked the largest sum for country’s air force by committing to buy new combat aircraft, airborne warning and control systems and missiles during the current year.
"The AEW&CS from Sweden, F-7 from China, upgraded Mirages from France and fresh supplies of Mirage spare parts from Libya would help the PAF meet the air challenge from our arch rival," commented a retired PAF air marshal. Pakistan had first shown interest in the purchase of AWE&CS from Sweden in 1995 when the then Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, had visited Stockholm and had requested the then Swedish premier, Olf Palme, to approve the sale. "For nine years we have tried to secure these aircraft from SAAB/Erricson," said an official source.
While the PAF made a determined effort to induct the SAAB AEW&CS into its fleet, but in its process to replace the Fokkers, the PIA tested the SAAB 2000, fitted with engine from Allison/Rolls Royce ATR and Dash-8 fitted with engines from Pratt and Whitney. With the PAF’s deal for SAAB-based AEW&C almost complete, it is now almost certain that the PIA would approve a strong internal recommendation for the SAAB 2000. "It makes more sense because the SAAB will be setting facility for the maintenance of the PAF’s SAAB 2000 in the country," said an official. "It’s much feasible, both financially as well as technically, to have a combined maintenance facility for the PAF’s and the PIA’s SAAB fleet."
Pakistan Okays $1 Billion Deal for Swedish AWACS
By REUTERS, ISLAMABAD, Pakistan
Pakistan’s cabinet approved on May 24 plans for the purchase of a $1 billion airborne early warning surveillance system from Swedish firms Saab and Ericsson to boost its air defenses.
Pakistan, concerned over nuclear rival India’s plan to purchase an airborne early warning system (AWACS), has long been seeking a similar system from Sweden.
"The Federal Cabinet accorded the go-ahead to the Ministry of Defence Production of the proposed purchase of AWACS aircraft from Sweden," said an official statement issued after the cabinet meeting.
Defence group Saab announced in October that it and Ericsson had won the order worth more than 8 billion crowns ($1 billion) from Pakistan.
Pakistan, struck by a devastating earthquake at the time, had said it had yet to give the final go ahead to the deal.
The statement said defense officials informed the cabinet that Pakistan lacked a reliable surveillance system for its air space.
"In order to safeguard the air defences of Pakistan, it was deemed necessary to have the latest, airborne early warning systems," it added.
The system includes Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft equipped with airborne radar from Ericsson.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan and India have continued to focus on building their military capabilities despite a warming of ties since they went to the the brink of a fourth war in 2002.