Saab has signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence for support and services related to the land-based Giraffe AMB radar systems.

The contract period runs from 2019 to 2024.

The company say in a release that the contract includes provisions to supply spares, repairs, maintenance and Field Service Representative services as well as design assurance and configuration management. Saab will carry out the work on site at Baker Barracks in Thorney Island, UK and at Saab in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“Top-tier support is an important part of Saab’s offer. Our support offer has in-built flexibility to enable high readiness and availability as well as long-term sustainability. We are proud to assist the British Army with further enhancing their air situational awareness” says Anders Carp, Head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.

According to the company’s website, Saab’s multi-function Giraffe AMB radars have been in operation with the UK armed forces since 2007, ‘contributing both to force protection through the detection of incoming rockets, artillery shells and mortars and to air situational awareness and air defence on operations and at public events’.

The UK fleet of land-based Giraffe AMB, the largest in the world, has been upgraded to the latest build standard, with features including Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Mode 5 and integration with the Link 16 data network.

The MoD say that the radars will support the Land Environment Air Picture Provision (LEAPP) as part of the future Sky Sabre system.


    • No doubt less than the systems of old, but it’s ok, because they are twice as good we must only need half the number. And we won’t need any in reserve because… yada yada.

      • Exactly. Bugger me, Spot On, Blimey, someone else with Vision and a sense of WTF Is going on in their Heads all these Decades. If this site could award Medals, You would be getting one right now.

      • These are slated to replace Rapier which should happen in 2020, so we’re not actually talking about an operational capability yet. I’ve not seen anywhere a final number but they’ve still got another year to deliver more- and that’s if we’re expecting full operational capability right out of the gate, which is rare.

        Even if you just assume 10 systems though, we’re talking about replacing a short-range only weapon with a medium range one (8 km compared to 25+ km) which is significantly more than just twice as good. The radar, battle management and networking ability (these can use Link16 into AWACS etc.) mean that the capability is improved further in relation to what it replaces.

        As far as I can see, Rapier is only in use with 16 RA, which operates 4 batteries, one of which is permanently based in the Falklands which leaves only 3 batteries available for deployment to theatre (As far as I understand it, Rapier is no longer a part of UK mainland air defence). Problem is, I can’t see anywhere that describes what a battery is. A 1980s battery description on Wikipedia noted a fire control radar, plus 4 associated launcher units (16 missiles on the rails). But the article then notes that the batteries have been shrunk, although the later Rapier type can carry 8 missiles per vehicle. So, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume 1 radar and 2 launchers per battery, for the same 16 missiles ready to go. I can’t find the makeup of a Sky Sabre battery either, but for arguments sake let’s call it a radar and 2 launchers too (that gives you 24 missiles, by the way, because the launchers pack 12 CAMM). Even if we assume that 50% of the radars are for storage and spares, that still gives 4 systems ready for deployment (if one is in the Falklands). That gives an improvement in availability AND capability.

        I know that stealth cuts due to improved capability seems to be the MOD’s unofficial motto, but in this case -based upon what I’ve seen- we may be OK…

        • Giraffe AMB is already in service.
          The Falklands radars are counted separately as they’re not available for deployment elsewhere. I believe the Falklands requires 3 radars separately to the LEAPP radars, of which there are 10 delivered to date. A contract was announced for the Falklands radars seperately a year or so ago.

          • Not sure why, but can’t reply directly to you.
            What we had is not the subject of the conversation, what we have is. We operate 5systems, we’re getting 10 significantly better ones. We can be as upset as we like about the old 120, but we haven’t had those since the 1980s.
            Incidentally, that 120 figure was for launcher units, rather than batteries or systems. These were arranged into 1 fire control radar per 4 launchers. You’re still talking more than now, but it’s 30 systems rather than 120. Bear in mind that those systems are vastly less capable, and we no longer have a mission to defend the Rhine.
            I’m not saying that the state of the British military couldn’t do with a boost, but I’m struggling to understand why there is complaint that we’re getting at least 10 systems, when we’ve only had 5 for the last 12 years…

          • These are radars!!!

            They are not replacing Rapier, Rapier is a missile system which is being replaced by Land Ceptor.

            The Giraffe AMB contribute to the Land Environment Air Picture Provision (LEAPP), which also has other radars contributing. The Land Ceptor is linked into this but is not reliant on one system, as its sensor agnostic.

            Don’t be comparing Rapier firing units to Giraffe Radars…its got about as much sense as comparing Challenger 2’s to Puma helicopters.

          • The Point I was actually Making (but being Ignored) was that We now have 10 “Systems”.( I know the difference between Launchers and Radars ) 10 entire Systems that are to be used in the defence of the UK, Our Worldwide Bases and Areas of Combat and Our new found Love affair with “Over Seas Influence” Heck, There are more Giraffes in Bristol bloody Zoo.

  1. Funny old world, I was just thinking about this. OK, so here’s the scenario.

    2021, early full deployment of the QE in a full RN carrier group and joint air wing embarked, the QE group sails for an Arctic exercise – 2 T45, 1 T23 and a top secret early delivery T26 fully commissioned and worked up, 2 Astute and full complement of replenishment and missiles for air, sea and land. The group sail up the North Sea.

    Then a short interrupted communication is received “Food was laced with a psychoreactive compound on all ships, and all crew and command taken over and zombied. The group is heading for the Moray Firth with the intention of destroying the UK. The group in charge is from …” and at that point Steven Siegal has an unfortunate accident with the deep fat frier, sorry Steven, loved your films.

    There’s an hour to go, and no communcation with the task force is possible, but nobody knows if genuine or not and the Russians deny all knowledge. Could it be them, the Chinese, the Yanks, Donald Tusk, the Brexiteers as STILL nobody knows what’s happening with Brexit? The SNP even?

    So. What happens? Does it succeed? Do any missiles hit mainland UK?

      • Well, I did have a beer with my tea 🙂

        Semi-serious though, the origin was someone saying when the Kuzentsov was in the Moray Firth it could have wreaked destruction on UK military and civil targets. I think not, but it got me thinking – what defences DOES the UK have, apart from QRA? There’s only 100 to 200 Rapier systems in total, and many deployed elsewhere like the Falkands. The Kuznetsov didn’t even have the missile cruiser in attendance though.

        • dadsarmy – not sure when the Kuznetsov was in the Moray Firth,happy to be corrected though.As good as the Rapier was/is did we ever have 100-200 systems (I think not) but surely the best Defence the UK has is what it has always had – ie the Sea ,be it the North Sea or the English Channel.

        • dadsarmy, ” Who do you think you’re kidding ” ? lol again. When Kuzentsov was In the Morey Forth, You can bet your entire Scottish budget of “Tenants Super”for the past decade, that a great big fat Astute was sat not far away just waiting for “The Word”.

          • For the 2014 one someone posted they’d seen a photo through the periscope. which in the context it was in, was probably true.

        • Not much Dad’s I think.

          200 Rapier!

          One Regiment ( 16 at Baker Bks ) of 4 fire batteries. 8 fire units each I recall? May be wrong it may be 6. One of which is on rotation in Falklands. So 32 Rapier FSC plus maybe a few for training with 104 RA and 14 Regiment at Larkhill.

          RN has FRE. Fishery protection squadron. Whatever escorts and SSN are in home waters available. UKMCT stand by flight at Yeovilton with Wildcat for SBS.

          QRA as you say plus a comprehensive ASCS backing it up.

          UK is not an armed camp bristling with defences as it does not need to be. Most threats are spotted in advance by NATO or by intelligence agencies. In peace time we are thus very vulnerable but I’d think just about any nation is if Russia launches at them unprovoked with no warning.

          Also depends what the Russian cruiser has and how accurate the missiles are. Can they be downed by cyber? What targets? Some places in UK still have cold war hardening and the comms network is particularly secure.

          I know the comment was only half serious but still should the Mod start looking at a greater home defence role?

          • Well, first lines of defence I guess are politics and professionalism such as shown by the crew of the Duncan being buzzed by 17 jets, but not taking a lock just in case of an itchy trigger finger by a pilot.

            I did see a figure of 120 earlier on following links from the RAF who no longer have them because of the Typhoon, many deployed in the Falkands, Cyrpus I daresay and elsewhere.

            Used to be decades ago and the old Rapier, you’d be driving around in Scotland and see them exercising quite often. Possibly for public confidence during the Cold War – makes me think maybe the MOD / Army should do the same these days. I drive around Scotland far more on business now, and haven’t seen one for years, nor the Dutch army convoys!

          • Yes Dad’s you would have seen them in Scotland as Lossi and Leuchars had squadrons based there from RAF Reg.

            Several other squadrons were RAF Reg manned but paid for by USAF to protect their bases. Others were in Germany. All gone.

            Actually the 120 figure may have been pretty accurate.

          • Ha Daniele.
            I was looking at the Rapier build figures earlier, Some 600 Launchers were built with @ 25,000 Missiles and they were sold to a @ dozen Countries. 124 for the UK apparently.

          • Daniele, Judging by the “comments posted above” Pretty much yes.
            What bothers me, ( actually I have lots of things that bother me ) Is the Lack of Apparent Missile Defence. 70 Odd years ago, We had no Defence against V2’s. Am I wrong to worry about This ?

          • We should compare notes. See who has the longest list of “bothers”!

            Mines extensive.

            My wife puts up with my rants, and wishes to lock me in a room with like minded individuals for a “Self Help” therapy dear John sort of thing. There’d be carnage.

      • I’m kind of hoping someone will play the scenario, F35s taking off to attack ground targets, Typhoons from Lossie scrambled to win air superiority and shoot them down, Consingsby sending up more, some getting through and getting picked off by whatever air defence Rapiers are around the UK with Giraffe thrown in for good measure.

  2. As a containerised system and considering that there is already a fixed Sea Giraffe version, could this radar be fitted to commercial ships in times of need? Operating with containerised Sea Ceptor missile systems would give a group of merchant vessels a degree of protection from air and missile attack.

    • I don’t see why it should be a major problem as Giraffe is the radar that Land Ceptor will be using to acquire targets. It will need another aerial for the two way data link. A containerised Sea Ceptor/Land Ceptor system would be a good solution to increasing a task forces air defences if it was installed on the RFA ships. The system could even be controlled via a T23, T26, T45 or even a QE carrier.

      Expanding on that could a container load of Aster 15/30 by fitted to a RFA but then controlled by the T45. That would significantly increase the firepower of a T45.

      • Assign 12-24 silos on a T45 to Sea Ceptor instead of aster 15 and you have just quadrupled your 25km range missile load on a T45.

        For me we should have a mix of 18 VLS for Seaceptor (72 missiles) and 30 for Aster NT this is probably increasing numbers of both missiles.

        As for the current Aster 15 I believe these can be upgraded to NT/30 with an extra booster, so nothing wasted at all.

        That would really make the T45 something.

    • The problem I see is numbers, the UK with defence cuts has cut inventories as “the Cold War is over”. Well, on the other hand …

  3. A service contract for a item that doesn’t actually exist yet, kinda strange. When is the first unit meant to be ready for deployment?

  4. Just to say Hands Off the Moray Firth! It is a lovely area which I enjoy visiting and already have 2 trips lined up this year. I would therefore appreciate it if nobody has nuked or otherwise rearranged the scenery in the meantime. Thank you for your co-operation.

    • It’s still there, no Kuzntesov in sight and QRA North does its usual job keeping off those pesky Russians. Yes it’s a beautiful area, hope you enjoy your trips 🙂

      Lossie’s due for a major refurb in the summer, so I think they’re using Kinloss and Leuchars again for a time. I know Leuchars well from the old Cold War days, watching on one occasion everything they had taking off whenever presumably off duty pilots got out of their beds or off the golf course was a sight to see. Either a major incursion or an exercise, I guess we’ll never know.

      • Last visit was Littlemill in October but usually in/around the Black Isle. Next trip is to near Invergordon. A favourite of mine is Culbokie with fantastic views to Ben Wyvis.

  5. Australia operates three Giraffe AMB radar systems, originally procured for CRAM early warning with the ADF in Afghanistan, but is unlikely to acquire more.

    The ADF is starting to get serious about GBAD with its land based Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) program. LAND 19 Phase 7B Short Range Ground Based Air Defence project is the Army’s lead project within the IAMD program.

    Phase 7B is focused on providing the joint force mobile tactical level protection from air and indirect fire threats, and being integrated into the higher IAMD capability. The RAAF will have responsibility for longer range GBAD and ultimately any future land-based BMD capability.

    The NASAMS system has already been chosen as the Army’s launch system and achieved ‘first pass’ approval by Government. NASAMS is capable of launching a range of Raytheon missiles including AMRAAM, AIM9X and ESSM – all of which are already in service with the ADF.

    Unfortunately, it all but rules out any European based missiles, such as Landceptor, as contenders for the program.

    The radar system will almost certainly be sourced from Australia’s indigenous manufacturer CEAFAR. CEAFAR has already developed the Ground Based Multi-Mission Radar (GBMMR) which is a mobile active phased array radar system that provides 3D air and ground surveillance.

    The mobile truck-mounted radar is a scaled down version of the AESA radar used on the ANZAC class frigates. GBMMR has already been proven in a land based environment in South Africa’s Overberg test range in 2014 in a successful live firing of an IRIS-T SLM. The CEAFAR’s modular construction has also seen a scaled down version of the radar debuted at the LAND 2018 conference on the ADF’s Thales Hawkei platform.

    • The CEAFAR is in some respects a better radar that the Artisan. For starters it is a true AESA radar and not a PESA system. Both systems have similar published performance figures. However, PESA does not have the same capabilities as an AESA system, namely battle degradation, agile frequency hopping, and multi-path transmissions i.e. it can transmit from one antenna face multiple beams at a reduced power and use multiple antennas at the same time.

      I know on cost grounds the T26s will be getting the Artisans from the T23s, which is ok for the time being, but I’ll be very surprised to not see it replaced in the near term, by an AESA system, perhaps by CEAFAR.

      • Artisan does have the advantage of height above sea level though (as does Sampson) which seems to be what the RN currently favors.

        Sampson seems to be up to twice as high as a panel based PESA/AESA system, e.g. T45 at 40m and Arleigh Burke SPY-1 at 20m. With a sea skimming Mach 3 missile (1km every second), the difference in detection range may give an additional 8 seconds of response time which would be an age when the radar horizon on sea skimming missiles at 5m may only be about 30 seconds at that speed.

        Artisan on T26 seems to be lower so the advantage over panel based radar is probably less but perhaps not to be discounted in a world developing hypersonic ASMs.

        • The Hobart Class AN/SPY-1D(V) S-band radar panels are mounted above the bridge rather than below as on the Arleigh Burke’s, which gives them a small height advantage over the ABs (albeit still much lower than the T45). A pic on HMAS Hobart’s Facebook page from December last year of Hobart alongside an AB in Pearl Harbor clearly shows the height difference.

          The Hobarts also have a Northrop Grumman AN/SPQ-9B X-band pulse Doppler horizon search radar mounted high up on the main mast and the Sagem VAMPIR IR search and track system. Both systems are designed to supplement the SPY1 AESA radar to provide early warning of threats and are integrated into the Aegis combat system. So the AESA panel height may less of a concern.

          All the ANZAC frigates have already been fitted with CEA’s phased array radar on a relatively tall mast. There were some issues with top weight as a result and some measures including added ballast and enclosing the quarterdeck were implemented.

          Currently the ANZACS are undergoing yet another round of upgrades under the ANZAC Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) which, among other changes, sees the conventional Raytheon SPS-49(V) aerial search and long-range surveillance replaced with CEA’s L-band Air Search Phased Array Radar.

          The new mast combines both CEA radars and foreshadows the configuration for the RAN’s Hunter Class frigates (T26) although they may be scaled up in size and power. The first of the AMCAP upgrades, HMAS Arunta, is now back in the water. From the pics I doubt whether the ANZACS mast gives up much in height to a T23 Artisan setup.

          Best of both worlds.

          • I fully understand the implications of not having your search radar on the highest point of the ship, as it limits the view-able radar horizon (depending on frequency) and thus reduces your reaction time.

            All the drawings of the T26 show that it only has the Artisan as the primary radar for both surface search, 3D search and tracking. This is unlike the T45 which combines the Sampson with the S1850M. The S1850M is a single planar array PESA, whilst the Sampson is a dual planar array AESA, with the antenna arrays mounted back to back, spinning at a 30 rpm i.e. twice a second. This enables the radar to provide near constant sweep coverage. There used to be a rule of thumb regarding the power it could transmit i.e. the larger the size of the antenna the more power it could effectively transmit. The Sampson has a published range of 400km and the radar array does not look bigger than 2m squared, so to get that range and target fidelity, they must be pushing some serious amps through it.
            The S1850M by contrast is at least four times the size of the Sampson array. It is used to back up the Sampson when it’s conducting intensive investigative tracking. This is due to the processing resources required to discriminate targets at that range.
            The Artisan has a published range of 200Km and it must do all the 3D searching and tracking using a single planar array, which again is spinning at twice a second. It is reputed to be able to track nearly 900 targets, but tracking and searching are two different functions that takes up a lot of processing resources. Therefore, as the T26 costs so much and can be tasked with conducting operations alone, I am highly surprised that it only has one primary radar.

        • The AN/SPQ-9B installed on the Hobarts uses a high-resolution X-Band, pulse- doppler radar. It is a track-while-scan radar that detects subsonic and supersonic sea skimming missiles at the horizon in heavy clutter while simultaneously providing detection and tracking of surface targets.

          The AN/SPQ-9B antenna generates three beams. When an air target is detected in the main beam, two look-back beams provide confirmation and track promotion resulting in “single-scan track” for the AEGIS combat system.

          The rotating antenna is installed high up in the Hobarts mast but exact height is not published. When berthed next to one of the RANs LHDs it as approx. 3 or 4 metres above the LHD bridge which itself is 36 metres above the waterline.

      • Hobarts have SPY1D – it is a PESA ot an ASEA. The CEA radar is very good but i think it is much shortter range compared to ARTISAN.

        I woukd go for SEA VIPER and T45 over Hobart and AEGIS any day. Hobart still has to use 2 mk99 F/C radars to guide missiles in the terminal phase. (1 less f/c radar then an AD). This leaves them open to mulit-vector symiltanious attack. Also the SM2 kill probability is likely to be less then ASTER and as she only has 48 VLS the amo problem is ever woese than the T45.

        I think the T26 with ARTISAN and Sea Ceptor might be better tgan the Hobart too..

  6. I really don’t understand why the UK does not have significantly better anti-air coverage.

    Considering we are an island, and the only way to effectively attack an island is by air or ship, it is amazing we have zero air launched anti shipping missiles and we have no long range land based air defence. Even countries like Spain have decent air defence.

    We considering the focus is on fighting wars in someone else backyard, effective air defence seems a much, especially considering the ever reducing number of combat jets.

    Landceptor / giraffe is a step in the right direction but it is still way too limited range for anything other than point defence.

    • I guess if they were concerned with fighting expeditionary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the cold war threat had gone, those capabilities would be cut rapidly.

      “Rag Heads” don’t have ships or air power!

      And the politicians are so short sighted the possibility the threat may return or never really left is not considered.

      Having said that in not too concerned about SAM defences for the UK I think the threat is minimal at present.

      I’m more concerned about ASM capability, ship and air launched.

    • They prioritised spending on Typhoon as Russia had no TLAMs worth talking about and no one else is about to start firing missiles at the UK. We don’t seem to be prioritising anti ballistic missiles at all though and I’m not sure if it’s because the cost is so high or they don’t don’t think it will work.

      • I think it’s more that the threat doesn’t exist. Even the US ones are designed for medium range ballistic missiles and not icbm, they also have extremely small ranges and so one unit could only really cover a single city, which gives plenty of space between units to exploit. Yes we could protect london and Birmingham and maybe 1 or 2 overs but if we lost a number of smaller cities /towns the country would still be on its knees and that’s assuming the defence actually works, which no one really knows as they haven’t been tested in practice.

  7. The Land Ceptor will give better UK coverage under Sky Sabre officiallly 25km plus (some reports say 60km), however this still falls short of a real air defence system for the UK. We should buy land bassed Aster30 and give them an ABM capability. This should be backed up by Land Ceptor protectting key sites. Buy the CAMMS ER for extra range.

    You would think that would be the least you should do!

    Rob N

    • Agreed. Arms length deterrence and politics is one thing, last ditch defence is still a must. Specially from a force which manages to be somehow at 30 nm, rather than the stand-off 100 nm of the likes of the Meteor. Including terrorism. A state’s primary duty apart from well-being of its citizens, is their home security.

    • In terms of UK home defence, if everything goes a bit Pete Tong, do we not still need some sort of land-based missile capability that would take out say a Rooskie bomber coming in at old-school high altitudes (or 50,000ft+)? The old Bloodhound II was good, but anything with an even longer range (say 125m+) ?

      • Aster 30 is already in service in France as a long range area land defence SAM (120km). We should buy this too. The French ststem has already got a short range ABM capability.

        Rob N

  8. I remember the days when the Lightening was promoted as the last interceptor! Missiles were the future of air defence! Okay, so where are they then. Seriously, if the shit does hit the fan I hope someone in government is still alive to hold to account…for treason.

    • It was on MSN for 10 hours before It was Edited !!! Today we have a report of a “Missing JET ” off the Channel Islands with a Picture of a small Propeller aircraft. A couple of weeks back there was “Royal Navy sends Battleship to the English Channel ” It was a River Class Patrol Boat.
      A Bit quiet on here Isn’t It ?

      • Yep, no mention of Israels latest strike on Syria. Especially as the Sky news clip shows another “Pantsir” style system destroyed – no guys praying this time! What was interesting though is the “Pantsir” launches two SAMs at the incomming missile, but go haywire before they get close – some serious jamming going on there methinks. No comments from Russia yet.


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