IDEX 2019: Lockheed Martin, Diehl and Saab unveil Falcon ground-based air defence (GBAD) system

Luca Peruzzi

During IDEX/NAVDEX 2019, Lockheed Martin, Diehl and Saab unveiled a collaboration on Falcon ground-based air defence (GBAD) system. Presented as a GBAD providing short and medium-range air protection against current and emerging threats, the Falcon integrates Diehl’s 40-kilometer range Infra-Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled (IRIS-T) SLM interceptor and vertical launcher, Saab’s 360-degree rotating AESA X-band Giraffe 4A radar through Lockheed Martin’s flexible SkyKeeper command and control battle manager. Falcon’s open architecture allows the system to easily integrate into any air operations center.

“Our international customers are looking for the next generation short and medium range air defense solution. Falcon is threat driven and ready now,” said Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin vice president and deputy for Integrated Air and Missile Defense. “Falcon is a great example of working with our customers to identify potential gaps and find rapid-response solutions to take on today’s evolving threats.”

During the system presentation on Diehl stand, the industrial team said the baseline battery integrates a SkyKeeper command and control battle manager unit, a Saab’s 360-degree AESA Giraffe 4A fire control radar unit and three launcher units, all installed on board high-mobility trucks. Each launcher unit is equipped with eight missile canisters which are positioned and fired vertically. However, the SkyKeeper command and control battle manager unit can control more launchers. The Falcon is capable to track more than 800 targets and prosecute eight simultaneous omnidirectional engagements per launcher, for a total of 24 targets.

The Diehl IRIS-T SLM is a highly maneuverable interceptor fired from a 360-degree vertical launcher with the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously in all weather conditions even at short distance (less than one kilometer according to the industrial team). The Saab Giraffe 4A AESA radar offers high discrimination capabilities and leverages gallium nitrate technology to detect and track both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and drones, while simultaneously featuring an Automatic Sense & Warn functionality. Lockheed Martin’s SkyKeeper command and control battle manager gives commanders unparalleled situational awareness with real-time early warning of incoming threats and optimized engagement solutions for critical decision making, the industrial team said.

According to the Lockheed Martin vice president and deputy for Integrated Air and Missile Defense, the Falcon is being promoted in UAE to replace the Hawk GBAD system as well as in the Middle East and European region.

Photos by Luca Peruzzi