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Gripen Offer Tailored to Indian Quest For Aatmanirbhar Defence Industry

3 min read

When Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign to create an environment in the country that is conducive to capability building, investment, and skill development, among other things, it resonated with the Saab values of self-reliance. Back in 1937, when the world was on the brink of another World War, Sweden decided to build its own fighter aircraft. Ever since, the country has strived to realise self-reliance in various domains, especially defence.

Aatmanirbhar Defence Industry

In India, Saab is committed to the Make in India vision. And this commitment includes innovation, design, development, assembly, support, and maintenance. The plan is to involve hundreds of Tier 1, 2 and 3 partners, vendors and suppliers to create a range of Indo-Swedish systems that can not only support the Indian Armed Forces, but also be exported to other countries.

Indigenous manufacturing facility

Saab’s offer is to develop an independent industrial base that can design, develop, produce, upgrade and maintain the Gripen system, thereby going beyond just building subcomponents with Indian partners. Besides Gripen, this base will also offer technological support for indigenous fighter programmes such as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK2 and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

"Our Gripen offer would serve as a catalyst for the Indian aerospace industry to become a defence superpower in the long run. Moreover, the industrial base would act as a production and development nerve centre to boost India's export requirements," says Mats Palmberg, Chairman and Managing Director, Saab India.

If India selects Gripen, Saab will make 96 out of 114 aircraft that the Indian Air Force requires at the proposed industrial base in India. This would result in the creation of a number of high-tech jobs in the country. “We have already worked with Indian companies like CIM Tools, Tech Mahindra and Sansera, and we know for a fact that India has a vast pool of talent that completely matches our requirements,” Mats says.

Partnership with Indian companies

Saab is not new to working with partners in customer countries. For example, it has a long-term experience in sharing technology with South Africa and Brazil - it has collaborated with Brazilian companies such as Embraer, Akaer and AEL Sistemas. In Brazil, Gripen fighters are developed at the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) in the city of Gavião Peixoto. Similarly in South Africa, Saab's Grintek Defence (SGD) provides expertise in avionics, sensor technology and electronic warfare.

In India, Saab is in talks with a number of suppliers at several levels including Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs). India-Sweden relations have been based on joint defence and industrial cooperation, which has a great scope. So far, Saab has worked in the areas of mechanics, stress calculations, software development and verification, aerostructures, among other things.

Upgrade and maintenance

As a Gripen user, India will always have a say over the development of the platform, allowing it to be tailored to its specific needs. "For instance, Gripen E can be integrated with Indian-made missiles as well as those developed by other countries. Any upgrade, which may or may not involve foreign systems, can be carried out right here in the country," Mats says.

Besides upgrades, the entire maintenance, repair and overhaul of the Gripen system will be carried out at the proposed Gripen center. “The good thing is that Gripen has been designed for easy maintenance. Everything from the training of personnel to sourcing maintenance equipment can be done locally. There won't be any need to fly the fighters to Sweden for any maintenance or upgrade," Mats says.