Swedish defence firm, Saab has offered to create an entire aerospace system in India as part of its plans to design, develop, manufacture and maintain its latest Gripen-E fighter under Make in India. Earlier this month, Swedish government had formally submitted a proposal to the defence ministry to make the Gripen fighters in India.
“Saab is not only looking at setting up a base here, but also helping in the development of aerospace capability for many years to come,” said Jan Widerström, chairman, Saab India Technologies Pvt Ltd.
“We will not work by simply providing kits, but by providing knowledge so that we can build capability both from the bottom of the supply chain and from the top of the supply chain. We will not simply move an assembly line; we will build development capability,” said Mats Palmberg, vice president, Industrial Partnerships, Saab Aeronautics.
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Saab’s plan include creating an Indian company, in partnership with either an Indian private defence manufacturer or a defence public sector unit. It will also create a training academy for training engineers, technicians and workers to develop skills and knowledge critical to creating aerospace eco-system.
“We would train engineers in Sweden, as we’re currently doing with Brazilian engineers for the Brazilian Gripen programme. We will train people in India and in Sweden to be able to design, develop, manufacture and maintain in India,” added Palmberg.
Saab officials refused to comment on the ongoing discussions between the Indian and the Swedish governments. However, they said that they would be willing to look at ways to meet any urgent requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF) before the first Gripen-E is delivered to Brazil in 2019. Gripen-E is latest “smart fighter” from Saab which was rolled out at its Linkoping facility on May 18. Brazil has already signed a deal with Saab for co-production of Gripen-E.
The IAF is authorised for 42 fighter squadrons but currently has only 33. A number of Soviet-era Migs are to be decommissioned in the next couple of years. The defence ministry sources refused to officially comment on Saab’s offer, saying that many factors will have to considered before a choice is made.