Saab in India: Areas of Cooperation
Saab has a history of offering extensive industrial cooperation packages focusing on capability development. During the Brazilian Gripen program for example, structures like GDDN, Gripen Flight Test Center, Saab Aeronáutica Montagens (SAM) and Saab's Aerostructures plant continue to play pivotal roles in the fighter’s development.
If India selects Gripen, the technology transfer package will be even bigger because of the higher number of aircraft required. “The offer will have both direct industrial participation projects encompassing maintenance, repair, and overhaul capabilities and indirect industrial participation that may include additive manufacturing and AI. The goal is to build capabilities to develop, build and maintain supersonic aircraft in India,” Kent-Åke Molin, Sales and Marketing Director at Saab says.
By 2024, about 350 engineers and technicians would have experienced a unique role of being the point of transfer for all Gripen operational abilities to Brazil. “An efficient pilot training package will be a part of Saab’s Gripen offer to India as well. Along with taking Indian pilots to Sweden for initial training, we will also create extensive networked simulator environment along with LVC (Live, Virtual & Constructive) training capability in India for continuous training here,” Kent-Åke says.
Post training in Sweden, the pilots, engineers, and technicians will come back to India and lead the development process in the country. The simulator environment will enable them to train others and remain in practice themselves.
As a part of its offer, Saab has proposed to develop 96 out of the 114 aircraft (to be procured by India under the MRFA project) right here in India. "We have already worked with several partners within the Indian defence industry on several projects like IDAS maintenance, T7 Red Hawk, NAIS and even Gripen parts. There is a tremendous scope for various strategic partnerships in the country. Developing the Gripen fighter in India is about several things; building self-reliance, creating high-tech jobs, enabling efficiency of operations and reducing cost. Production and maintenance capabilities in India mean low life cycle cost. No fighter operator likes surprise costs," says Kent-Åke.
Indigenous fighter programmes
Saab’s Gripen offer to India includes the creation of the Indian Aircraft Company or INAC, a hub for Gripen production in India. But INAC will be more than a Gripen production, operation and maintenance center. It will also offer technological support to ongoing indigenous fighter programmes such as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK2 and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). “INAC will create an ecosystem that supports various defence projects in terms of offering subsystems, maintenance assistance etc.,” Kent-Åke concludes.