While there are scarce details besides the procurement notice, the description bears a striking resemblance to a joint Saab-Swedish Navy test program which earlier this year saw Saab’s Enforcer III, the in-house test vessel of the CB 90-class, and the Swedish Navy’s Visby-class corvette HSwMS Nyköping (K34) cooperate out at sea. Under the operational tests, the Enforcer III had received a Saab Giraffe 1X-radar and was able to be operated remotely as a sensor-equipped USV while sending the radar picture to HSwMS Nyköping via data link. This allowed the stealth corvette to operate with its own sensors in passive mode, while the unmanned radar vessel could operate away from the corvette increasing the area covered by the radar and increasing the survivability of the corvette as it is harder for the enemy to acquire its location.
The ability to operate the vessel remotely was described as a key part of the operational tests in September, as not having to worry about the safety of a crew aboard the CB 90 was crucial for allowing the radar vessel to push closer to the enemy and not having to worry about the emission control aspect and enemy actions against the sensor vessel. However, it remains unclear whether the current program will also see the CB 90H being converted to remote control or whether it will just include the radar.
While the radar system is so far unspecified, Saab’s Giraffe 1X is seen as the frontrunner based upon a combination of facts. This includes the homefield advantage of Saab on the Swedish market, as well as the fact that the parent company also is the manufacturer of the CB 90H following the acquisition of the Dockstavarvet shipyard back in 2017, and last but not least the usage of the Giraffe 1X in the operational testing that does seem to have led to a rather quick decision on this conversion program. The Giraffe 1X is mainly recognized as a lightweight option for short-range ground-based air defenses mounted on light wheeled platforms, but despite its limited weight (150 kg total system weight, 100 kg topside weight) it is fully 3D- and multirole-capable. The low power-requirement further lends credibility to the idea of mounting it on a relatively small and light platform such as the CB 90.
While the CB 90H is designed with an eye to operations in the archipelago and would suffer on open seas, the range and seakeeping capabilities are good enough for the 15 m long vessel to keep up with the larger corvettes on many missions near-shore in the confined waters of the Baltic Sea. In addition, the ability to feed data to the joint air- and sea-situational pictures of the Swedish Armed Forces add further value.