Offering Next-Level Self-Reliance to India
Saab’s Gripen offer to India is completely in sync with the country’s long-term goal of building indigenous capabilities. At the recently held Energising Indian Aerospace Industry Seminar in New Delhi, India, Ola Rignell, Chairman and Managing Director, Saab India outlined Saab’s technology transfer package giving examples from existing Gripen customers.
Training Indian Engineers
A well-planned training program paves the way for a successful technology transfer. When Saab was awarded the fighter aircraft contract for South Africa in 2000, the company took 200 South African engineers to Sweden and trained them. The engineers then went back to South Africa to work at their own development center in Johannesburg. Today, several airforces around the world are using South African electronic warfare and avionics technology that has been developed at the Saab Grintek Defence facilities in South Africa.
Saab has a similar program of delivering technology transfer in Brazil as well which is running on time. For India, Saab envisions a much bigger capability transfer module as the order volume is higher. And it all starts with a training program.
“How do we create close partnerships with Indian companies? Well, first of all, we do not come down to India and give our Indian partners drawings expecting them to produce the fighter. We will bring them to Sweden and we will show them how we do things. We will also certify them according to our processes and develop their capabilities. Based on that we expect them to come back to India and train their peers in India,” Ola said.
What Make in India means for Saab
Saab believes in complete capability transfer. To that end, it aims to create a complete ecosystem where Saab and its Indian partners can benefit from working together. The offer is not just about transferring assembly lines or even complete manufacturing, it is about building self-sufficiency to a level where defence products can be exported out of the country.
“For Saab, it’s about capability development. For example, if we have an Indian supplier that makes rivets for aircraft, we don’t want that company to only produce rivets according to the drawings. We want to educate our partner so that they can guide us for the next generation of rivets and tell us why we need to change. And that’s exactly what we have done in the past 10 years where we have been working with Indian partners both for supplying to Boeing and Airbus with deliveries from India,” Ola said.
Saab is in the fray to deliver 114 fighters for India’s MRFA program. As a part of its offer, Saab proposes to build 18 Gripen fighters in Sweden and the rest in India.