Swedish defence major Saab has offered to make single-engine aircraft in India—for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier and air defence systems for the armed forces.
This comes close to US-based Lockheed Martin saying that it is in a fix whether to go ahead with its plan to produce F-16 combat jets in India given President Donald Trump administration is not in favour of moving manufacturing out of the western country.
Talking to the media on the eve of the Aero-India 2017, Tony Ogilvy, head of marketing for Gripen Maritime, said, “We have responded to the Indian Navy’s request for information (RFI) to procure 57 multi-role combat aircraft for its carrier.” The RFI says the aircraft are “intended as day-and-night capable, all-weather, multi-role, deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air defence, air-to-surface operations, buddy refuelling, reconnaissance etc from Indian Navy aircraft carriers”.
According to Ogilvy, the Gripen M will have all the capabilities of the Gripen E.
“All the sensors, avionics and weapons and the GE 414G of the Gripen E will be offered. The small logistic footprint, high availability and a smaller, lighter air frame results in significant gains from a maintainability point of view,” he said. Besides offering to set up production line for the Gripen E, in case it receives orders from the Indian Air Force for 200 single-engine fighter planes, it is also exploring strategic tie-up with Indian SMEs under the ‘Make in India’ programme.
According to Ogilvy, the company is ready to make changes to the Gripen E for meeting the Indian Navy’s requirements.
“The Gripen M is still on the drawing board and if we get positive response from the Indian Navy, we will be able to meet its requirements.”
Saab is already producing camouflage equipment in Gurgaon and has set up a research and development (R&D) centre in Hyderabad. It also has a joint venture with Tech Mahindra in Belgaum to provide parts to Airbus and Boeing.
“Saab is actually planning to go beyond Make in India. We want to make India a net exporter and provide indigenous capability to the Indian Air Force,” said Kent-Ake Molin, sales and marketing for Gripan.