PICTURE: Greece accepts delayed Erieye system for operational use

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The Greek air force has formally accepted its fleet of four Embraer EMB-145-based airborne early warning and control system aircraft into operational use, following lengthy delays in fielding the equipment.

Achieved during a 12 February ceremony at Elefsis air base, the entry into service milestone will see the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye active phased array radar used to deliver AEW&C services for a NATO nation for the first time.

dimitris koumaras
 © Dimitris Koumaras/Saab

Athens ordered its modified regional airliners in 1999, with deliveries initially expected to start from 2002. But delays to this schedule resulted in three aircraft being delivered in 2003 and the last in 2005, according to Flight's MiliCAS database. However, the Greek air force formally only received its last example towards the end of last year, after completing delayed user acceptance testing of the system.

Mission equipment supplier Thales says this involved Link 16 interoperability testing last August with two AEW platforms and a French air force Dassault Rafale fighter, which "successfully demonstrated system operability for functions including voice communications, track exchange, and order transmission and acknowledgement." Further test flights were made using US Air Force-operated Lockheed Martin F-16s, it says.

"The Hellenic air force has been a very demanding customer, but always acted in a spirit of openness and fairness," says Kenth Börjesson, Saab's sales director for southern Europe. "We have listened and also taken the air force's views into account in the implementation programme."

Brazil and Mexico have also previously taken delivery of a combined six Erieye-equipped EMB-145s from Saab, while Pakistan is acquiring the sensor mounted on Saab 2000 airframes. Sweden operates the radar with modified Saab 340 turboprops, and Thailand is on contract to acquire one Saab 340-based system from Stockholm.