In a big boost for the Make in India campaign, Sweden’s Saab Group has announced a tie-up with the Gautam Aadani-led Adani group for manufacturing single engine fighter aircraft in the country. Under the Modi government’s strategic partnership model, the two groups will jointly manufacture the Gripen fighter aircraft in India, if chosen by the Indian Air Force.
At the briefing to announce the tie-up, Gautam Adani, Chairman of Adani Group said, “Today India spends billions of dollars in exporting defence weapons and equipment. We are keen to play an instrumental role in making India a place for high-class defence manufacturing. This is in line with PM Modi’s Make in India vision.” “Gripen will be offered to the Indian government under the strategic partnership model,” he said.
Last year, Saab rolled out its latest iteration of the Gripen aircraft – the Gripen E. Gripen E has weapons like guided glide bombs, long-range and agile air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments. Additionally, the aircraft has an inherent precision strike and stand-off capability, says Saab. Gripen E is equipped with a highly integrated and sophisticated sensor suite including an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra Red Search and Track (IRST), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and datalink technology, which, when combined gives the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times, claims Saab.
The Indian Air Force is in need of raising fighter squadrons and has zeroed in on two fighter jets that can meet its requirements. The two are; Sweden’s Gripen and America’s F-16. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of F-16 fighter jets, has already announced a tie-up with the Tata Advanced Systems for making the aircraft in India. Recently, Lockheed offered to eventually make all the F-16 fighter jets in India and export them from here.
The Defence Acquisition Council, led by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, recently finalised the broad contours of the strategic partnership policy. The policy was then cleared by PM Narendra Modi-led Cabinet. “The policy is expected to be implemented in a few selected segments to begin with, namely, fighter aircraft, submarines and armoured vehicles. In future, additional segments may be added,” says a Ministry of Defence release. The partnership model broadly involves creating two separate pools of Indian private companies and foreign OEMs, floating a tender for programmes and allowing the Indian companies to tie up with a foreign OEM to bid competitively.