Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971


Falcon: The Next-Gen System That’s Ready Today

The Falcon air defence weapon system, a short and medium-range air defence solution for current and emerging threats, which is result of a collaboration between Lockheed Martin, Diehl Defence and Saab, has been developed to meet a Middle East strategic partner’s specific requirements. The joint effort has seen the companies assemble the ready-now ground-based air defence system that addresses the short and medium range air defence gap.
Nation Shield takes a deeper dive into the system with Lockheed Martin Middle East’s regional Chief Executive Robert S. Harward. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: The Falcon was announced at IDEX. Tell us more about why you chose the exhibition to debut this system?
A: Falcon was developed to meet specific requirements, and we knew of no better world stage than IDEX to debut its capabilities. 
At Lockheed Martin, we recognise that next-generation technological innovations, like Falcon, shape the future of global security and progress. As such, our core focus is to create and develop advanced defence capabilities, which will support all our regional partners in ensuring the safety of their citizens and stability of their nations against evolving threats in this modern age. For us and for our partners, Diehl Defence and Saab, IDEX provided the ideal stage for us to exhibit this advanced solution that will help them not just navigate but progress in today’s security landscape.
Q: At IDEX you had said that you hoped a Middle East country would be the launch customer. Tell us more about the readiness of the system?
A: We are excited about the development of this new solution that addresses the current and future Short and Medium Range Air Defence threats to its homeland and deployed forces. We conducted extensive trade studies of different radars, C2 systems and interceptors to address those threats. The results of the studies became Falcon. Saab’s Giraffe 4A radar and Diehl’s IRIS-T SLM interceptor are the right system for this threat. We continue to discuss the scope of the programme with potential clients to provide this solution at an affordable price.
Q: What feedback are you hearing from customers around the world? Can Falcon be sold to other international partners? 
A: Following IDEX, the headlines and feedback have been phenomenal. We’ve received a lot of interest from several other international customers. There are more than 25 countries currently using legacy systems that cannot address current and emerging threats. Falcon will not only replace those systems but will provide greater capability with fewer systems. Falcon’s effective 40km range and 20km altitude coupled with a true 360-degree Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and vertical launchers make Falcon the next generation system ready today. 
Q: One of the major advantages of Falcon is the 360-degree Giraffe 4-A (G4-A) S-Band AESA radar. Tell us more about what makes this radar so unique and the detection and tracking capabilities?
A: Yes, you’re right. Giraffe 4A is a 360-degree S-Band digital multi-channel radar system featuring AESA technology based on gallium nitride (GaN), which means it has a full range of detection and tracking capabilities. Giraffe 4A is also a multi-function radar used for simultaneous air surveillance and air defence. It simultaneously detects, and tracks fixed and rotary winged aircraft as well as providing Automatic Sense & Warn functionality and drone detection.
Q: Tell us more about Skykeeper.
A: SkyKeeper is a scalable, fully networked open architecture system. This delivers Airspace Management, Airspace Surveillance and Joint Fires Coordination in the Air-Land domain. SkyKeeper also provides expeditious and unambiguous identification of air threats and the subsequent assignment of effectors to engage those threats. 
Integrated into the open architecture of the Lockheed Martin SkyKeeper Battle Manager, Falcon can track more than 800 targets and prosecute eight simultaneous omnidirectional engagements per launcher. 
Q: We continue to see a wide range of threats including unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft, cruise missiles, and helicopters. How does IRIS-T SLM work to intercept these threats?
A: Today’s threats continue to evolve in both shape and form, making the job of Armed Forces around the world very challenging. Falcon is ready now and can intercept a wide range of current and evolving threats destroying a wide range of aerial threats such as unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft, cruise missiles, and helicopters in a large engagement envelope with direct hit capability, and far enough away from urban areas to negate the effects of chemical/biological weapons. All this is highly automated and remotely controlled from Skykeeper with a minimum of personnel. This is truly game-changing technology that can be fielded immediately.
Q: What integration activities have you undertaken since you say this is “ready”?
A: Initial Integration activities have been conducted between the G4A, IRIS-T SLM and the SkyKeeper Battle Manager. Integration with the G4A has been conducted at Saab with successful track communications between the radar and SkyKeeper. Additionally, the G4A and IRIS-T SLM have been tested successfully and Saab’s radar and Diehl interceptors qualified against live targets in the SHORAD battlespace. Skykeeper has been tested successfully and qualified tracking live targets in the SHORAD battlespace in the LEAPP instantiation.

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