SAAB ties up with Adani to make Gripen fighters in India

02 Sep 2017


Amid intense competition for the Indian Air Force's (IAF) requirement for a single engine-fighter jet, Swedish defence major SAAB on Friday announced a collaboration with India's Adani Group to manufacture their Gripen fighter jets and other high-tech products in India, which reports said would be worth billions of dollars.

''Our plan together is to create a defence ecosystem in India ... building new fighters is very similar to doing high technology projects in the energy sector,'' Hakan Bushke, president and chief executive of SAAB, said in New Delhi.

Buskhe said the defence ecosystem will involve partners, vendors and suppliers. ''The collaboration is meant for Gripen fighter jets. We also have other projects such as niche sensors for instance ground penetrating radar and other R&D,'' he said.

Speaking alongside, Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani said the partnership would be in ''aerospace and defence including the Gripen''.

The announcement comes as the IAF is preparing to initiate the process in the next few months for the selection of a fighter aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Russian MiG-21s and MiG-27s under the recently promulgated Strategic Partnership (SP) model of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).

The IAF has plans to get some 100-plus fighter aircraft, estimated to be worth more than Rs60,000 crore.

''In continuation of our vision of nation building, we are keen to play an instrumental role in helping transform India into a destination for world class high-tech defence manufacturing,'' said Adani.

''We are proud of our enduring relationship with SAAB and look forward to partnering in major projects such as Gripen. Our various collaborations in aerospace and defence sectors will help establish new production lines in India, generate employment and build sustainable skills,'' he added.

Adani said the first focus will be on technology of critically important equipment such as fighters, unmanned aerial systems, carbon composites and radar.

Besides ensuring transfer of technology, there will also be ''focus on capabilities critical for true indigenisation, including design, system integration, maintenance and upgrade for Gripen in India'', Adani said.

He added that Gripen will be offered to India as the best single engine fighter aircraft under the strategic partnership model.

Bushke said, ''Our plans in India are to create a new defence eco-system that would involve many partners, vendors and suppliers. To achieve this, we need a strong Indian partner who can help create the framework for the infrastructure and eco-system to come into place.

''We have a strong belief that we can qualify for the needs of the IAF. We recognise some work needs to be done, but we would not have taken the step if we didn't believe we would be successful.''

US defence firm Lockheed Martin will be a major competitor for Saab. Recently, Lockheed Martin and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd signed a deal to produce F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft in India.

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