Saab’s First Digital Remote Tower Begins Operation at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen

Saab has started operating its first military digital air traffic remote tower (r-TWR) at the NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany.

The tower received certification from the German Military Aviation Authority before beginning operation.

NATO’s Geilenkirchen base will utilize the r-TWR alongside its Boeing E-3A airborne early warning and control system fleet to gather the latest air traffic control information in all weather conditions.

Apart from the E-3A units, the digital tower will support missions of helicopters and fighter planes.

The r-TWR will be operated through a set of technologies from a control facility in the air base.

“This is an important milestone for Saab going operational with the digital air traffic solution within the military domain,” Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions CEO Per Ahl said.

“The digital tower provides a flexible and scalable solution that is proven to be suitable for military air bases as well as civilian airports of all sizes.”

Saab r-TWR Digital Tower
Saab r-TWR Digital Tower. Photo: Saab

Saab r-TWR Digital Tower

The r-TWR can be installed with protected panoramic, infrared, or PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras to cover an area of interest, and signal light guns and sound sensors to capture airport sound.

The tower can integrate other Saab automation tools, including the A-SMGCS (Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control) and the Aerobahn CDM (Collaborative Decision Making) Suite, for efficient management of larger and more complex air bases.

The tower also has Saab’s TactiCall Voice Communication System to provide air traffic controllers with a user-friendly communication interface.

r-TWR’s control facility has multiple digital tower modules that enable a base to control more than one airport, including a visual presentation projector that shows distribution and a full 360-degree view of a field.

The facility’s platforms include graphic overlays, radar labels, and video tracking to raise operator situational awareness.

‘Huge Breakthrough’

In 2019, Saab secured a contract to provide a digital air traffic solution for NATO’s Geilenkirchen base. This agreement was the first military order Saab’s Digital Air Traffic Solutions received for an operational digital tower.

According to Saab, NATO ordered the digital tower for live operations while refurbishing the base’s current tower.

Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions was formed in 2016 through a joint venture between Saab and the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration.

“We are proud to be trusted by NATO to deliver an operational digital tower. Saab being selected to install the first air base solution is a huge breakthrough, not only because it’s for NATO, but because it means we’re entering the German as well as the military market,” Ahl said.

“With the equipment, NATO will possess new capabilities, enabled by a digital air traffic control solution.”

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