Sweden is interested in selling its next generation Gripen fighter aircraft to India under a government-to-government deal, Defence Minister Peter Hultqrist, who is on a day’s visit to India, told The Indian Express.
Gripen, manufactured by Swedish aerospace company Saab, was one of the contenders for the 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) fighters to be supplied to the Indian Air Force.
However, it came second to the French fighter Rafale in technical and financial evaluation. India had announced a government-to-government 36 fighter deal for Rafale with France during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris in April this year.
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Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier told The Indian Express that the file noting made on the MMRCA deal by his predecessor, AK Antony, had virtually killed the 126 aircraft deal. Parrikar, however, remained non-committal about a follow up deal to the 36 Rafale deal signed in Paris.
Although the Swedish defence minister refused to explicitly state it, it is believed that the aircraft being offered to India is the Gripen-E fighter. The offer is likely to be made without any reference to the MMRCA evaluation, Rafale deal or Tejas-1 and 2 being developed indigenously.
“We are working towards a broad agreement on defence cooperation with India. Gripen is one of the pieces in it. We will offer a highly effective and highly qualified aircraft at an acceptable cost, and in a good time frame. The intention of my visit is to start the process and see that the agreement is eventually signed,” Hultqrist told The Indian Express.
Sources told The Indian Express that the Swedish delegation is also interested in selling Gotland-class submarines to India under the ‘Make in India’ programme. Earlier in the day, Hultqrist had met Minister of State for External Affairs, General VK Singh (retd).
Hultqrist also highlighted the threat posed by terrorism to all liberal democracies in the world. “India is impacted by terrorism and Sweden is also concerned by the rise of ISIS. We have decided to be part of the 60-country coalition against ISIS and have provided 35 soldiers as trainers,” he added.