Saab has announced a “massive increase” to the weapons payload of its Swordfish maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). Gary Shand, Director Marketing & Sales, Airborne ISR, today outlined changes to the aircraft to provide for additional stores carriage.
The inner and outer external hardpoints can now carry 2,000lb (comprising pylon and weapon), on each of four stations. As previously schemed, each inner hardpoint was configured for a 1,700lb load, with 400lb on each of the outboard hardpoints.
For engineering study purposes, Saab is now working towards a weapons load comprising two Saab RBS 15F anti-ship missiles and two Eurotorp MU90 Mk3 lightweight torpedoes. This combined 6,800lb payload is, says Shand, a “game-changer”.
As an alternative, up to six lightweight torpedoes can be carried thanks to a Saab-developed twin stores carrier. In this way, two MU90s are carried on each in-board pylon, with single torpedoes outboard. “You don’t need a bomb bay anymore”, remarked Shand, referencing the rival Boeing P-8 Poseidon MPA.
For search and rescue missions, the Swordfish can carry up to four SKAD (Survival Kit Air Droppable) pods developed by Airborne Systems in Bristol, UK.
“We can carry a lot more sonobuoys than we said previously”, Shand added. In its latest configuration, the Swordfish has 112 slots for gravity-launched NATO-standard sonobuoys in A, F and G sizes. The sonobuoys will be provided by Ultra UK. Dropping buoys from lower level provides for advantages in terms of serviceability, air traffic clearance, ballistics and reaction time, Saab contends.
As well as the Selex ES Seaspray 7500E and Star SAFIRE electro-optical sensor, the Swordfish included the CAE MAD XR magnetic anomaly detector, reflecting the low-level CONOPS envisaged for the aircraft. Saab describes this equipment as “ten times lighter than legacy systems”, weighing 3.7kg compared to the 40kg MAD that equipped the Royal Air Force’s now-retired Nimrod MR2.
The Swordfish shares 70% commonality with the Saab GlobalEye airborne early warning platform, now in production for the United Arab Emirates, including the Bombardier Global 6000 airframe.
“We are ready to roll this out and are looking forward to our first customer”, Shand concluded. Saab says that it is able to deliver the Swordfish within three years of a contract signature. Overall, the company forecasts a “two-digit” global MPA requirement representing “over 50” aircraft.