SAAB's Gripen fighter is competing with the LM F-16 for lucrative single-engine fighter program
A joint venture between Swedish defense giant SAAB and the Indian Adani group is looking at producing a broad portfolio of products including UAVs and helicopters for the Indian armed forces, besides eyeing a billion-dollar deal for supplying fighter jets to the Indian Air Force. From the point of view of Israel’s defense industries, the move puts Sweden as another competitor in the expanding Indian defense market.
The joint venture was focusing on developing “foundational capabilities” to produce a wide-range of products in the aerospace sector for the domestic as well as export markets, said Asish Rajvanshi, head of the Adani Group defense and Aerospace division.
In September, Saab and the Adani Group had announced a collaboration in defense manufacturing entailing billions of dollars of investment and said the joint venture would produce Gripen military jets in India if it won the single-engine aircraft deal.
Chairman and Managing Director of Saab Groups India operation Jan Widerstrom and Rajvanshi said the joint venture was aiming at building unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), military helicopters and various other aerospace components and equipment with a broad focus on developing a world-class ecosystem for the aerospace sector in India.
The government is set to start the process soon for procuring a fleet of single-engine fighters for the Indian AF and US defense firm Lockheed Martin will be a major competitor for Saab for the deal.
The fighter jets will be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft maker along with an Indian company under the recently launched strategic partnership model which seeks to bring in high-end defense technology to India.
In May, the government had unveiled the strategic partnership model under which select private firms will collaborate to build military platforms such as submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign entities.
The Indian government has been focusing on strengthening the capability of the IAF. In September last year, India signed a Euro 7.87- billion (Approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with the French government for the purchase of 36 Rafale twin-engine fighter jets, and the IAF was keen on a follow-on order of 36 additional Rafales.
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