Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Arup Raha recently flew the Gripen fighter jet during his five-day visit to Sweden. Gripen, a fighter aircraft manufactured by Sweden’s defence major Saab, is being offered by the company under PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Raha’s Sweden visit from June 7 to June 11 was intended to take the existing defence cooperation between the Armed Forces of the two countries to the next level.
Raha flew the Gripen at the Saab’s facility at Linkoping in Sweden, last week. According to PTI, Raha flew the Gripen D aircraft with Wing Commander (Flying) Michael Lundquist. He visited the flying base of the Swedish Air Force and the production facilities of SAAB at Linkoping where Gripen aircraft are manufactured.
Commenting on same, Saab told FE Online, “Saab appreciated the visit of Air Chief Marshal Raha and the opportunity to show him how Gripen can meet India’s needs for the 21st century.”
Saab has time and again offered to manufacture its Gripen fighter aircraft in India. The newly unveiled Gripen E, which is said to have improved avionics system when compared to previous versions of the jet, is also being considered under ‘Make in India’.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had recently said India will select a good fighter by the end of this fiscal year to be made domestically.
It is not yet decided which aircraft it would be, he had said adding it may be F18, Rafale, Eurofighter or Gripen. “The decision in this regard will be taken in this fiscal year,” he had asserted.
Saab is confident that it will benefit immensely by investing in India’s defence sector and has even given its thumbs up to the recently unveiled Defence Procurement Policy (DPP). “We (Saab) believe that DPP 2016 is a strong step in the right direction, towards boosting Make in India and encouraging defence manufacturing. We are looking forward to the remaining appendices now, and are confident that they will further build on this base,” Jan Widerström, Country Head and Chairman of Saab India told FE Online last month.
(With inputs from PTI)