Sweden’s pledge to supply ASC 890 aircraft: Potential impact on airborne surveillance and control

Saab 340 aircraft with Erieye radar
Saab 340 aircraft with Erieye radar

Sweden announced on May 29 that it will provide Ukraine with an ASC 890 airborne surveillance and control aircraft as part of a new $1.23 billion military aid package.

NV has collected the main facts about the delivery of this aircraft, which is already being dubbed a historic event in Ukraine.

Main characteristics of the ASC 890 (Saab 340)

The ASC 890 radar reconnaissance aircraft, also known as the Saab 340, was developed by the Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab.

In addition to Sweden, Thailand also has such aircraft, and since March 2024, Poland has had them. Poland signed a contract for the purchase of two such aircraft worth $57.81 million back in July 2023. The contract also includes ground equipment, logistics and support services.

Read also: Sweden to allocate record $1.2 billion military aid package to Ukraine, including reconnaissance aircraft

The Airforce Technology outlet lists three modified versions of the aircraft:

  • Saab 340B AEW (S 100B Argus);

  • Saab 340B AEW-200;

  • Saab 340B AEW-300 (S 100D Argus).

The Saab 340 crew consists of six people.

The length of this aircraft is 20.57 m, the wingspan is 21.44 m, the height is 6.97 m, and the wing area is 41.80 m².

The empty weight of the Saab 340 is 9,200 kg, with a maximum takeoff weight of 13,155 kg.

The maximum speed of the aircraft is 530 km/h, the service ceiling (the highest altitude at which, when flying at a constant horizontal speed, there is still an excess of thrust sufficient to climb at a certain vertical speed - ed.) – 7,620 m, flight duration – up to seven hours.

The aircraft is equipped with General Electric CT7-9B turboprop engines and Ericsson Erieye PS-890 radar.

What the ASC 890 radar can do

Saab's Erieye, known as Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASC) 890 in Sweden, is a comprehensive system that provides a variety of capabilities for many roles and missions, meeting the requirements of both military and civilian applications.

The radar system uses Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology, which allows the radar energy to be dynamically adjusted depending on the situation. The radar can cover a wide area or focus on a smaller priority area and has a high update rate. S-band technology guarantees exceptional radar performance in various weather conditions.

The effective surveillance range of ASC 890 covers more than 500,000 square kilometers horizontally and extends to an altitude of more than 18,200 meters.

Above the sea surface, the system can detect and track objects such as fighter jets, hovering helicopters, cruise missiles, and even sea targets the size of jet skis.

The Erieye AEW/AEW&C system has been acquired by nine countries in various configurations and is one of the most widely used airborne surveillance systems in the world.

Why the ASC 890 radar reconnaissance aircraft is important for Ukraine

Defence Express calls the transfer of the Swedish radar reconnaissance and control aircraft a historic event for Ukraine, stressing that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been striving to get its own radar surveillance aircraft for all 33 years of independence.

This aircraft will give Ukraine additional opportunities for more effective use of F-16s and other aircraft in battles against Russian invasion forces.

The first Saab 340 in Poland, March 2024

Defence Express expert Ivan Kyrychevskyi spoke about the need for Ukraine to receive radar surveillance aircraft in an interview with Radio NV back in May 2023.

He explained that, according to open source data, if the Dutch and Belgians provide Ukraine with F-16s, they will be MLU-modified F-16s, whose radars can see targets at a range of 110 km.

"Roughly speaking, if we have a Harpoon with a range of 185 kilometers at least for the F-16, the radar power is not enough and we will need external targeting," Kyrychevskyi said at the time.

“Or if we get lucky and are given AIM-120 air-to-air missiles with a range of modifications from C5 to C8, or even AIM-120D, to reach Russian aircraft at all possible ranges, then obviously, in this case, external targeting will be needed. Even this sufficiently powerful radar on the F-16 will not be enough for us to detect, for example, a Russian MiG-31 or even a Su-35 or even a Su-57 at such distances. We need a flying radar.”

He emphasized that without radar surveillance aircraft, Ukraine would not be able to unleash the potential of the F-16 and "it would just be a kind of high-tech replacement for the MiG-29, not what we wanted."

About a year ago, authoritative military analyst Agil Rustamzade told NV that the old modifications of the F-16 are inferior to the Russian Su-35 and MiG-31, but this can be compensated for by the use of "flying radars" – Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS).

He also said that training pilots of such an aircraft takes a very long time.

The WORLD AIR 2024 FORCES directory indicates that Sweden has two ASC 890 aircraft. Sweden noted that the transfer of such an aircraft to Ukraine would affect their defense capabilities, and this would be resolved by purchasing a new GlobalEye long-range radar detection aircraft.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine