The agreement covers, among other things, work on the next-generation of mobile networks (known as 5G), microwave and antenna technology, production methodology and industrialisation techniques.
“Saab is a world-leading developer of the latest antenna technology. This research collaboration with Ericsson, another world-leader in the development of mobile systems and base stations, will create many new opportunities. Gaining new insight, at an early stage, into technology development for large-scale production, and applying these methods in the development of high-tech defence and security products, will give us a competitive edge", says Micael Johansson, head of Saab business area Electronic Defence Systems.
The agreement also means that Saab becomes an industrial partner to Ericsson in its ‘5G for Sweden’ research programme. ‘5G for Sweden’ includes a number of collaborative projects between industry partners, key universities and research institutes. The programme aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the industries that are developing and integrating ICT solutions for products and services based on 5G standards.
“By bringing strong, research-intensive industries together we will gain valuable insight that will enable industries to become ‘more digital’. Like Ericsson, Saab is a high-tech company with a genuine interest in developing basic technology for new and innovative applications. Both companies have technical knowledge and experience which we will leverage in our joint research efforts; for example, in antenna technology. This collaboration with Saab is an important step forward for the ‘5G for Sweden’ programme. By 2020 we expect mobile networks to be able to support a fully-connected society,” says Torbjörn Lundahl, Ericsson programme manager for ‘5G for Sweden’.
The development of 5G requires significantly more efficient antenna technology to cope with increased capacity demands; a thousand-fold increase in capacity compared to wireless networks deployments in 2010. In this respect, Ericsson can benefit from Saab’s experience and expertise in radar antenna development, particularly in the area of active electronically scanned array (AESA) antennas. An AESA uses electronic components inside the antenna to transmit and steer electronic signals in different directions, without moving the antenna itself.
In 2014 Saab launched five new AESA-based systems for its Giraffe surface radar family using a key new manufacturing material, gallium nitride. Gallium nitride is a semi-conductor that can handle much more power than previous materials. When used in radars it provides increased range and improved performance, especially for detecting, identifying and tracking small and multiple targets. Saab recently received an innovation award from industry journal Aviation Week and Space Technology for pioneering the use of gallium nitride in radars for series production.
Effective test and measurement techniques are crucial to AESA development and production. This is another area where Saab and Ericsson complement each other in experience. For example, the two companies will exchange expertise in module-based development and tools.
The collaboration agreement is in effect for three years with a potential to extend that period and include additional technology areas.
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Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions within military defence and civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents around the world. Through innovative, collaborative and pragmatic thinking, Saab develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs.