Spillover Benefits of Gripen E for India
One of the most important parts of Saab’s Gripen offer to India is its industrial cooperation package. Unlike its competitors, Saab plans to do a lot more than setting up an assembly line in India. If selected, the Swedish defence and security company will work on the complete transfer of technologies and capabilities to the country. Through the Indian Aircraft Company (INAC), where 96 out of the proposed 114 Gripen fighters will be developed and assembled, Saab will create an ecosystem where Indian suppliers will work together with Saab to build self-reliance in the field of defence and aerospace.
Saab has already demonstrated its efficiency in technology transfer with its Gripen Brazil programme. During the last five years, more than 350 Brazilian engineers have been trained in Sweden. Through establishments like Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) and the more recent Gripen Flight Test Centre (GFTC), Saab is working together with its Brazilian partners to develop both Gripen E and F in areas such as vehicle systems, aeronautical engineering, airframe design, systems installation, system integration, avionics, human-machine interface and communications.
When it comes to India, the large volume of the order means an even more expansive capability building. “The number of proposed aircraft to India is very high as compared to Brazil. As a result, we would need to work with more suppliers here who will have extensive collaborations with our international partners. The scope of work, when it comes to design, training, development of flight-critical and mission-critical systems will be a lot more,” says Mats Palmberg, Head of the Gripen India campaign.
With INAC, Saab’s day one concept (plan) is to train Indian engineers and technicians, who will be an important part of the development of the first 18 aircraft, and simultaneously work with industry members to manufacture airframe parts. The engineers will play a leading role in the production process at INAC once they are back from Sweden. In the meantime, Saab would have had not just developed a supply chain, but also created a base framework that would cover everything from sourcing spare parts to conducting flight training in the country.
The main objective is to start the production, operation, and maintenance of the Gripen system in India including everything from development to overhauls. There are no plans of taking the aircraft to Sweden for any repairs or overhauls. The secondary objective will be to give support to fighter programmes such as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK2 and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
INAC’s role will not be limited to Gripen design, development and technical support to indigenous fighter programmes. It will also be for future export. "We are talking about creating a base where future fighter development programs can be indigenised as much as possible. We would of course need the support of the Indian Government to fulfil an objective of this magnitude," Mats says.