The Saab 2000 Erieye (Image © Saab AB)

Future for Saab Saudi deal looks grim

There seems to be a lonely future ahead for the Royal Saudi Air Force E-2000 (Saab 2000 Erieye) Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft. A possible future purchase of a second or third aircraft – as well as any other Swedish made weapon like the popular Carl Gustav man-portable anti-tank missile system – looks very much in doubt. More and more Swedish member of parliament are swinging towards a total weapon sales ban on the Kingdom, even those who support current prime minister Stefan Löfven.

The RSAF revealed its E-2000 last December and images quickly found their way to cyberspace, even though both Saab and the Royal Saudi Air Force tried to keep the commissioning of the aircraft low-profile. Saab even hadn’t named Riyadh as the receiver of one of its Saab 2000s with the Ericsson-designed Erieye radar. “Upon customer’s request, no further information regarding the customer will be announced,” a Saab statement read that did confirming the price of 670 million dollars.

Saudi sources say a special squadron (60 Squadron is mentioned) now flies the E-2000 out of Prince Sultan Air Base / Al Kharj, home as well for the RSAF’s 18 Squadron with its five Boeing E-3 Sentry aircraft. These AWACS’s are are destined to undergo a lengthy upgrade program the coming years.

The parliament in Stockholm is currently a bit sensitive about what it sees as a lack of democracy in Saudi Arabia. Therefore a growing number of MP’s wants to ban sales of military hard- and software to the Kingdom altogether. Swedish-Saudi defence co-operation was renewed by the former centre-right government that lost the elections in September 2014.

© 2015 editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Saab 2000 Erieye (Image © Saab AB)