AIS technology is known to most who operate in the superyacht market. Typically AIS technology is associated with superyachts pinging their locations to various authorities. However, Saab Transponder Tech is looking to change how people view AIS technology. Saab has developed secure private AIS networks that can be overlaid on to pre-existing AIS technologies, to help owners and captains privately track the various assets onboard superyachts such as tenders, toys and helicopters.

Saab is essentially a defence and security company based in Sweden,” starts Mr. Stefan Karlsson, director of sales at Saab Transponder Tech. “We focus primarily on the military domain with a variety of products and systems. However, I belong to a designated subsection of Saab that is mainly active in the commercial and civil domains. We have been providing high-quality AIS and Navigation products for the professional maritime domain for many years since the early day of AIS around 20 years ago.”

Through its development of AIS class A devices, which have been widely adopted throughout the superyacht industry, Saab, with the help of qualified customers, has further developed ‘an encrypted tracking solution based upon AIS technology’. By adding a user-selected encrypted communication link to a mothership’s current AIS system, Saab has essentially created a private AIS network that allows various assets, such as tender and toys, to be tracked in real-time from the mothership.

“This system allows only participating units to exchange their position reports between themselves and the mothership, rather than being visible for standard AIS use,” continues Mr. Karlsson. “Typically, we have delivered these special system versions to qualified customers such as the police, customs, law enforcement agencies, the navy, coast guard, and others for a number of years. Through our work with one particular shipyard, we have developed a derivative of this concept that is tailored specifically for civil maritime applications, which in this case means the private tracking of smaller boats and toys – the Saab R5 Tender Tracking System.”

While there are other tender tracking systems available on the superyacht market today, typically they all suffer from the same two problems. Firstly, they require the addition of a different type of technological device to the already tech-saturated bridge area and secondly their range tends to be limited to around three to four nautical miles, which is widely considered to be quite poor.

“Since our system is based on AIS technology, the addition of the secure private AIS system can be overlaid onto superyachts’ pre-existing systems, meaning that there is no need for additional devices on board. Equally, because we are already on so many superyachts, it is just a case of updating the system with new software licenses,” explains Mr. Karlsson. “Additionally, depending on the height of the mothership’s antenna, our systems can track tenders and toys for around 10-15 nautical miles.”

Based upon Saab’s heritage from the aviation industry, we have been delivering qualified airborne AIS transponders for many years, and are happy to also offer a version that is compatible with the R5 Tender Tracking products. This makes it possible to track, for example, a helicopter over very long distances.

The Saab R5 Tender Tracking System is primarily designed for the safety of the superyacht, tender and toys operators. As such, Saab has also developed panic buttons that can either be installed on tenders or carried by toy users. Given its proven track record with AIS technology, Saab has the ambition to become the turnkey AIS technology provider for the superyacht industry, going far beyond what people typically associate with AIS technology.

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SAAB Transponder Tech


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