Saab pledges major investment if Gripen E wins IAF deal
Saab has pledged to support the development in India of a “future-ready aerospace ecosystem” if its Gripen E multirole combat aircraft is selected to meet an Indian Air Force (IAF) requirement for single-engine fighters. In comments to IHS Jane’s on 13 December, Jan Widerström, Saab India Technologies’ chairman and managing director, confirmed that Saab recently responded to the Indian government’s request for information to support the procurement programme. Saab is understood to be challenging for the contract against Lockheed Martin, which is offering the latest version of its F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The deal is framed around a requirement for localised production and could be worth about USD12 billion as the IAF looks to procure up to 150 aircraft to replace its ageing Russian MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter aircraft. Widerström said, “We formally responded to the Indian government in October, expressing our willingness to manufacture Gripen E in India, in line with the ‘Make in India’ vision. Our aim is to work closely with Indian industry to develop the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, and a complete future-ready aerospace ecosystem in India in the coming years.”
Widerström explained that Saab’s proposal includes the establishment in India of a modern facility that is fully capable of developing and producing advanced fighter aircraft. “We have a blueprint for a comprehensive ‘Make in India’ programme for the Gripen E, which includes the setting up of a full manufacturing facility, at par with our Gripen E facility in Sweden,” he said. “[It also includes] transfers of technology, the setting up of an aerospace ecosystem, the development of a local supplier base, and employment of a well-trained workforce.” Widerström added, “We’re not looking at this as component production or the transfer of an old assembly line. We will build a full spectrum of capabilities in India.