At Aero India 2019 Swedish Company SAAB is expected to showcase their latest technologies that are transforming defence and security planning, military deployment, defence economics and future force readiness. The company has a long relationship with the Indian Air Force, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and many other public and private sector entities involved in aerospace for India. Following are excerpts from an interaction with Ola Rignell, Chairman and Managing Director, Saab India Technologies, by Financial Express Online’s Huma Siddiqui on the eve of the show:
What are the main elements of your response to the RFI for the IAF fighter aircraft requirement?
We have responded with Gripen E which is the latest and most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft to the IAF. Gripen E design enables IAF to make changes in tactical functions in a very short period of time as compared to current methods.
Saab has provided a comprehensive ‘Make in India’ offer for long-term job creation with substantial production, maintenance and development capability. We have also provided a comprehensive technology transfer programme which is more of a capability transfer, going well beyond just the mechanics of transferring technology, including supporting current and future indigenous fighter programmes, for example AMCA.
All of these would be provided at a competitive cost, covering the entire lifecycle of the aircraft and the systems.
Will you be prepared to collaborate on the LCA Mk-II and the AMCA programmes?
We will be happy to collaborate and contribute to both the programmes as a part of the fighter aircraft acquisition requirements or independent of that.
Are you willing to go for 100 per cent Transfer of Technology (ToT) on Gripen E?
Saab is fully committed to technology transfer to India in connection with Indian procurement of Gripen E in accordance with the Strategic Partnership (SP) model. We will build the world’s most modern aerospace facility and ecosystem in India. And will abide by the terms of the Strategic Partnership that would be set by the government for the fighter aircraft programme and will undertake transfer of technology to the chosen partners.
What is Saab’s view on the abrupt discontinuation of the SRSAM contest? Have you taken it up with the government?
We are very disappointed with the discontinuation of a program where the evaluation process was being run with a high degree of professionalism. We have participated in all the trials and evaluation process and believe that our system met or exceeded the requirements of the Indian army. The Company had chosen competent Indian partners as well as an Indian vehicle that was specifically integrated into the system. We were looking forward to the next stage and are disappointed that such an abrupt decision was taken without adequate weighing of the options, technology and consequence.
What is Saab’s stand on the VSHORAD programme? What have you communicated to the government so far?
We have been informed at a meeting with the Contracts Negotiation Committee that the Russian IGLA system has been shortlisted as L1 after evaluation of the commercial bids. Saab has participated in the VSHORAD Buy Global procurement process starting 2011.
In 2018, a competitor, Igla-S, was declared L1 due to lowest price. For the time being, we believe that ROSOBORONEXPORT are under negotiation with the Indian authorities.
We have not been able to understand how the process has been interpreted by the Indian authorities as we believe that only Saab and MBDA should pass the evaluation and being called for bid opening. India is now heading for a Tri Service agreement with a system that is old and by now definitely not state-of-the-art as has been requested in the RFP.
With the interpretation of the process and letting Igla-S through, India will now purchase a system that is most probably not what was expected by the armed forces.
Saab’s RBS 70 NG is a state of the art system now of highest interest among armed forces worldwide and has lately been sold to a number of customers. The way Saab has experienced the Indian interpretation of the defence procurement process for our Army Air Defence Systems (SRSAM and VSHORAD) leaves us with a number of questions.
Saab is still active in India, and is prepared to discuss different types of possibilities to serve India with Army Air Defence systems in case there is a need for modern systems within the Indian armed forces, however at a lower level and without high cost NCNC-trials.
Is Saab prepared to offer technology for the construction of A26 submarines in India?
In principle, we see no difficulty in transferring technologies of interest to the Navy; the details will depend on the final requirements for technology transfer. Our approach to transfer of technology is far more than the transfer of production and support capability – it involves sharing knowledge and experiences from a century of submarine design, engineering and production so that India can acquire, operate and sustain a complete national capability for ‘stealthy’ underwater platforms.
Submarines for export are always tailored to the specifications of the customer, and so any Saab proposal for India would be unique to India, while drawing on the proven A 26 design. We believe in a strategic partnership that will, in the true spirit of co-operation and long term teaming, develop the capacity and competence of the Indian Navy, its design teams, and shipyards — to not only manufacture, modify and upgrade the new submarines for India but also develop the skills and experience to design and build future platforms in India.
What products are you displaying at Aero India 2019?
For decades, Saab has been an active partner with Indian businesses and we are committed to the Make in India programme. Saab will showcase its world-leading capabilities in air-power, aircraft and surveillance systems, as well as digital air traffic management solutions.
Gripen E and Weapon systems: Gripen combines exceptional operational performance, highly advanced net-centric warfare capability, sensor fusion, unique BVR capability, cost efficiency, with true transfer of technology and comprehensive industrial partnership. Weapon Systems on display include the MBDA Meteor, the RBS-15 long range ASM and Taurus. Also on display is a Full Scale Replica model of Gripen E and the Gripen E Mission Simulator.
Gripen Maritime: Saab will showcase its Gripen Maritime version to share its capabilities and performance.
Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS): IDAS is a fully integrated warning system and includes radar warning (RWC), missile approach warning (MAWS) and laser warning sensors (LWS). In India, IDAS is integrated on the ALH Dhruv.
Digital Tower Management Solutions: Remote Tower solutions provide a smarter approach to air traffic control by digitizing and integrating airport functions.
On display will be Ground Combat Systems including the Carl Gustaf M4 and the Carl Gustaf AT4, enhanced to deliver extended range (ER) performance and improved high explosive (HE) effects will also be present.
Land Electronic Defence System (LEDS) 50 Mk2 a cost effective, integrated, modular, Active Protection System, Next-Generation Radar systems, include the GaN based (Gallium Nitride)
Saab AESA Fighter Radar and the truly multi-role Global Eye AEW&C aircraft with ERIEYE-ER radar.
Other products on display from Saab’s portfolio includes GIRAFFE 1X multi-purpose, lightweight AESA 3D radar system solution and the Signature Management Systems includes the Mobile Camouflage System.