The Gripen for India offer by Saab goes beyond the fighter procurement. Just like the contract with Brazil, Saab aims to set up a truly capable and self-reliant defence industry in India by creating sustainable high-tech jobs, transferring technology and know-how, and generating sustainable export business. It is truly a unique offer wherein Saab plans to cater to the needs and requirements of the Indian defence sector while providing tailor-made solutions.
In the recently held Gripen webinar with some leading Indian defence journalists, Mats Palmberg, Head of Gripen India campaign, and Eva Söderström, Head of Saab Industrial Cooperation, talk extensively about the Gripen for India proposal and the long-term strategic industrial cooperation program involved.
“Make in India is a key part of the Saab offer and our long-term plan is to build self reliant capabilities in India,” Mats Palmberg says. According to him, the Gripen India offer is seen in two parts where the first part is about production, operation, and maintenance of the Gripen system. The second part of the proposal deals with the technological support that will be given to ongoing indigenous fighter programmes such as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK2 and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
“The whole thing will be centred around an industrial hub where all capabilities for manufacturing, delivery, MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) and more will be fulfilled,” says Mats. “We don’t envisage taking the aircraft back to Sweden for overhauls or any other part of the programme,” he adds.
The INAC (Indian Aircraft Company) is an advanced industrial body proposed by Saab that will front all Gripen production activities and as such, will act as a hub for the full-blown industrial approach to the Gripen India programme. INAC will be responsible for the assembly and delivery of 96 (out of the 114) Gripen aircraft. It will also take care of the design, upgradation and development of the fighter’s software and hardware, as well as the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the Gripen system.
Saab intends to have several Indian partners on board for the INAC who will work closely together with operations in Sweden and Brazil. Through INAC, India will become a part of Saab’s global industrial system for Gripen alongside the aforementioned countries. The aircraft produced will meet India’s needs, as well as for exports, while enabling a higher ratio of indigenous content and industrial benefits than any of the other competitors of the Indian MRCA programme.
According to Mats, India’s new defence FDI model – with the limit raised to 74% from 49% – is suitable for Saab as it will allow the company to have more control over the entire process. Saab can do things exactly how it has done in Brazil where the program is running right on schedule and meeting customers’ expectations.
The scope of the Gripen for India offer is one of the best offers on the table, feels Mats Palmberg. The comprehensive Make in India and Skill India package, paired with the product offering of Gripen E, the most modern fighter in the competition, is the best choice for a self-reliant India.
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