Early Warning Aircraft Inducted into PAF

ISLAMABAD / ATTOCK: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) took a major step forward in transforming itself into a modern force by inducting the first Saab-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Aircraft into its fleet.

The ERIEYE radar system mounted on a turboprop aircraft will enable the PAF to detect all aircraft taking off from and landing at all forward Indian airbases adjacent to Pakistan and also to identify the type of aircraft, their weapons systems, vector and altitude.

The radar capabilities and range of the system enable the operator to receive an early warning in case of pre-emptive attacks from across the border.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman was the chief guest at the induction ceremony at PAF’s Minhas Airbase in Kamra. The ceremony was attended by the Swedish ambassador.

Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar said PAF’s long-standing requirement for airborne early warning capability had been met with the induction of the Swedish surveillance system which would make air defence more effective and bring about a major change in its operational concept and employment.

With the induction of the AEW&C aircraft, the PAF has become one of a few forces in the world to have an airborne early warning and control capability.

The air chief assured the nation that the PAF would not spare any effort to make the defence of the country impregnable.

The induction of Saab-2000, he said, would help counter any threat to the country’s sovereignty.

Talking to reporters after the ceremony, he said the aircraft had the capability to detect anything moving in the air, including drones.

He said the PAF would get three more AEW&C aircraft in 2010 under a $866 million deal.

He said Pakistan would also start receiving four IL-76 AEW&C aircraft from China in 2011.

He said negotiations were under way with China for J-10 fighter jets.

He said Pakistan would get 18 Block-52 F-16s from the US by July 2010 and ground to air missiles from Italy by the end of the year.

He said the first squadron of JF-17 Thunder planes would be operational by June.

Swedish Ambassador Ulrika Sundberg said the ERIEYE offered solutions to secure timely flows of information and protect infrastructure. She said Saab’s was one of the most advanced surveillance systems in the world and could serve both military and civilian purposes.

The system could be a force enabler as well as multiplier in efforts to ensure security and stability, she said.

“It is the result of very innovative thinking by both parties on how surveillance systems can contribute to enhancing overall human security, not only in Pakistan and the region, but also worldwide.”

She praised the professional insight of PAF officers involved in the project and the valuable inputs given by them towards the development of the system.

Saab’s Executive Vice-President Dan Ake Enstedt and the Chief Project Director of project Horizon, Air Commodore Perci Edul Virjee, also spoke.

The aircraft was placed on display on the occasion.

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