Swedish defence giant Saab Group said on Wednesday it would ensure “full” technology transfer of its Gripen-E fighter jet to India if the company got the single-engine combat aircraft contract.
The company also said it would build the world’s most modern aerospace facility in India, besides creating a local supplier base of ancillary systems, if it won the contract for which US defence major Lockheed Martin has emerged as a major contender. “Saab is committed to full technology transfer to India in connection with Indian procurement of Gripen-E,” Saab India chairman Jan Widerstrom said.
Eyeing the multi-billion dollar contract, Lockheed Martin has offered to set up a production line in India for its F-16 Block 70 fighter jets. In September, Saab and the Adani Group had announced a collaboration in defence manufacturing entailing billions of dollars of investment and said the joint venture would produce Gripen military jets in India if it won the single-engine aircraft deal.
The Gripen-E, an advanced version of the Gripen C/D, is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft fitted with advanced avionics. “We will build the world’s most modern aerospace facility and ecosystem in India. We will abide by the terms of the strategic partnership that would be set by the government for the single-engine fighter aircraft programme and will undertake complete transfer of technology to the chosen joint venture partner,” Widerstrom said.
His comments came as the government is all set to start the process of procuring a fleet of single-engine fighters. The fighter jets will have to be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft-maker along with an Indian company under the recently launched strategic partnership model, which seeks to bring in high-end defence technology to India.
The Saab said it would work with its Indian joint venture partners to ensure that transfer of technology took place in a manner that it not only ensured transfer of technology but also complete capability. It said the company saw a green field operation where it would train people in India and in Sweden to be able to design, develop, manufacture and maintain its operations in India.
“There will be a lot of training in Sweden and in India, and industry-academia-government cooperation. In that way, we can reach an indigenous capability to maintain, to sustain, to further develop Gripen in India,” said the Saab India chief. “We will not simply move an assembly line. We will build development capability. We will design, produce, support, innovate in India,” he said.