Saab to partner Adani for India fighter jets contract

Swedish fighter-jet ma nufacturer Saab AB will tie up with the Adani Group to bid for a multi-billion dollar contract to make fighter aircraft in India, reports quoting consultants close to the developments said.

The Saab-Adani partnership will compete with Lockheed Martin to equip the IAF with single-engine fighter jets to be produced locally under the government's 'Make-in-India' initiative.

Lockheed has already picked Tata Advanced Systems as its local partner to produce its F-16 fighter planes that will compete with Saab's Gripen aircraft.

The Saab-Adani partnership proposes to manufacture fighter planes  under India's new ''strategic partnership'' policy, said Ratan Shrivastava, an independent New-Delhi-based consultant and adviser at industry group FICCI.

Reports quoting the consultant source said the partnership will likely be announced on Friday.

Saab president and chief executive Hakan Buskhe will host a media event in New Delhi on Friday, Saab said in a press invitation issued  on Wednesday. It did not give details.

Adani is a $12 billion group with businesses ranging from energy and logistics to real estate and defence.

With Saab and Lokheed remaining the only two contenders for the defence contract, the government is likely to issue a formal request to the two over the next few days to provide information about their plans to design, develop and produce combat jets in India, reports quoting government sources said.

The Indian Air Force needs hundreds of aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Soviet-era MiGs and rfitted French Jaguar aircraft, but Prime Minister Modi wants the planes built in India to help boost the domestic industrial base and cut imports.

Shares in Adani Enterprises Ltd rose after the news of the planned Saab tie-up and were trading about 2.7 per cent higher. Saab shares were up 1.8 per cent.