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Saab offers both single, 2-seater variants of Gripen for IAF's 114 fighter jet programme

Gripen E. Photo: Saab.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Swedish aerospace and defence major Saab on Thursday pitched its Gripen combat aircraft as the best option for the Indian Air Force's hunt for 114 combat jets and said the company is ready to provide both single and two-seater variants of the aircraft.

The Gripen E, a single seater 4.5-generation aircraft produced by Saab, is a key contender for the IAF's fighter programme along with Lockheed Martin's F-21, Boeing's F/A-18, Dassault Aviation's Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian aircraft MiG 35.

In 2020, Saab started manufacturing its two-seater fighter aircraft Gripen F, primarily for the Brazilian Air Force.

"We are offering India both the single seater and two-seater Gripen aircraft." Mats Palmberg, Chairman and Managing Director of Saab India Technologies said.

Palmberg said the Gripen E combines exceptional operational performance, a highly advanced networked warfare capability, superior sensor fusion, unique BVR (beyond visual range) features and an adaptability for new threats, adding it is a decade ahead of other fighters.

"It is a true game changer. It is the best option. The Saab offer for the Indian Air Force also combines cost efficiency with true transfer of technology and a comprehensive industrial partnership," he said.

In April 2019, the IAF issued an RFI (Request for Information), or initial tender, to acquire 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) at a cost of around USD 18 billion. It was billed as one of the world's biggest military procurement programmes in recent years.

Asked about reports of Saab walking out of its joint venture with the Adani Group, Palmberg said both the parties mutually agreed to not renew the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement on the collaboration in 2019.

"It was mutually agreed not to renew the MoU in 2019. It is not that we came out (of it). It was a mutually agreed decision," he said.

The joint venture between Saab and Adani Group was firmed up in 2017 eyeing the billion dollar MRFA deal.

The Saab India CMD said the company will demonstrate in Aero-India its cutting edge technologies that make Gripen E the "world's most modern multi-role fighter aircraft."

He said Saab will present a wide portfolio of products and systems from the air, land and sea domains including the AT4 shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon, Carl-Gustaf weapon systems and Integrated Defence Aids Suite (IDAS).

In addition, a full-scale replica of Gripen E and a Gripen E cockpit simulator will bring alive the game changing capabilities of the aircraft, he said.

"At Aero India 2023, we will showcase our latest technologies which are changing defence and security planning, deployment and future force readiness," the Saab India CMD said.

"Our team from India, Sweden and other countries will be there to share our wide range of products, solutions, plans, and our thoughts about how we best can collaborate with the Indian defence industry to build an Atmanirbhar Bharat," Palmberg said.

Asserting that Saab is fully committed to complement India's 'Atmanirbhar' (self-reliance) approach in defence manufacturing, he said the company is setting up a manufacturing facility for Carl-Gustaf in India.

"The facility will support the production of the Carl-Gustaf M4 for the Indian Armed Forces as well as components for users of the system around the world," he said, adding that the production at the facility is expected to start in 2024.

"Saab will also be partnering with Indian sub-suppliers and the systems manufactured in the facility will fully meet the requirements of Make in India," he said.

To a question on whether Saab was looking at any Indian partner as part of preparation for the MRFA deal, Palmberg said the decision will be taken after getting clarity from the Indian authorities over the nature of implementation of the programme.

"It depends whether it will be the SP (Strategic Partnership) process or will it be global manufacturing followed by Indian solutions. That has to be clarified," he told a group of journalists.

In 2017, the government unveiled the strategic partnership model under which select domestic private firms will be roped in to build military platforms such as submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign entities.


Aero India  2023  Bengaluru  Saab  Gripen  IAF  Aircraft  

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