(From left to right) Jan Widerström, Country Head and Chairman, Saab India Technologies; Hakan Buskhe, CEO and President, Saab; Gautam Adani, Chairman Adani Group; Ashish Rajvanshi, Head, Defense & Aerospace, Adani Group
New Delhi. Swedish Saab has literally offered a sweet dish to India, saying it will share the best of its aerospace technologies for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and give it full controls like the vital source codes on aircraft equipment and components so that IAF can play with them for modification to its requirements now and in the coming decades.
Pitching to sell the latest variant of its combat jet, Gripen E, Saab CEO and President Hakan Buskhe announced his company’s partnership with India’s Adani Group to Make the aircraft in India, observing: “ We are committed to the India-Sweden relationship and in bringing the latest technology and skills to India.”
Asked specifically about the source codes by India Strategic, Mr Bukhse indicated that the Swedes would give unfettered control over technologies to India, and hopefully meet whatever demands the Ministry of Defence (MoD) makes with regard to technologies.
The Saab Chairman addressed newsmen September 1 along with Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani, pointing out that Saab had finalized this partnership as the “Adani group is one of India’s largest conglomerates … with a long history of entrepreneurship spanning through decades of dynamic growth.”
“We are committed to the India-Sweden relationship and in bringing the latest technology and skills to India,” Mr Buskhe said adding: “Our plans in India are to create a new defence eco-system that would involve many partners, vendors and suppliers. To achieve this, we need a strong Indian partner who can help create the framework for the infrastructure and eco-system to come into place.”
Mr Adani said, “We are proud of our enduring relationship with Saab and look forward to partnering in major projects such as Gripen. Our various collaborations in aerospace and defence sectors will help establish new production lines in India, generate employment and build sustainable skills.”
He expressed confidence that his rich team of engineers and professionals, engaged in oil, infrastructure and other projects, would do well in defence industrial infrastructure also, and meet any specifications and timelines set by the Government for manufacturing the aircraft. The Group has several global partnerships already and employs 50,000 people.
MoD is looking for a single engine fighter to be produced in India, and the two companies in competition are the US Lockheed Martin and Sweden’s Saab. One of them will be picked up under the Strategic Partnership model with an Indian company to produce a minimum of about 100 but over the years some 300 to 400 or more Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) with periodic upgrades both for the Indian market.
Mr Ashish Rajvanshi, Head, Defence & Aerospace, Adani Group, said that the Group was firmly placed in expanding in the defence industrial sector. It is not just an opportunity for the industry but the need of the country which has to induct new and futuristic technologies towards self reliance.
Source Codes to a system are important, so that IAF and Indian engineers can integrate its own private algorithms in onboard computers and maintain its exclusive maintenance and operational control over the aircraft.
Sweden’s new envoy to India, Ambassador Klas Molin, who arrived only that day in the morning from his previous posting in Thailand, graced the occasion but declined to make any comment.
Notably, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had told India Strategic in an earlier interview that IAF was looking for technologies newer than those stipulated in 2007, when the MMRCA tender was floated among six global aircraft manufacturers. Mr Bukhse promised that, saying that the latest generation Gripen E would meet the Indian expectations.
The aircraft will be equipped with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) combat radar, the passive Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) system to locate hostile targets, Anti Radiation attack capability, a powerful Engine for longer range than before, and Stealth features.
The 2007 Request for Proposals (RfP) had included all these specs. At that time, one requirement for an anti radiation missile was available only from the US war technology giant, Raytheon, which produced its High Speed Anti Radiation Missile (HARM) for attack on radar facilities. It was integrated then only on board Boeing’s F 18 Super Hornet.
A similar system is now available though in Europe.
Besides better specs overall in the new requirements, five key systems are the heart of any deal, that is, AESA, IRST, Anti Radiation Attack capability, Range, and Stealth. Saab has promised all of them in its Gripen E.
The 2007 contest for 126 combat aircraft with an option for 63 more, included both the single engine aircraft now in competition for Make in India, the US Lockheed Martin F-16 and Swedish Saab Gripen.
The contest was however scrapped and the Indian Government decided to buy 36 twin engine French Rafale, which led the competition, first in technology along with Eurofighter, and then in price.
In a joint statement, Saab and Adani said that their collaboration plan (is) within aerospace and defence in India, aligned with the Government of India’s Make in India initiative. The intended collaboration would encompass design, development and production of Gripen for India and other high-tech products of national importance for India and also the creation of joint ventures in India in line with and in support of the Make in India policy.
“Saab, in partnership with Adani Group, will discuss possibilities to offer solutions to bring required design and manufacturing capabilities in defence and aerospace to India. A collaboration between Saab and Adani will combine the technical and product excellence of Saab, along with the industrial engineering, system integration and mega project execution capabilities of Adani with the intention to manufacture defence systems locally in India.”
The two companies would keep in mind India’s focus on creating future-proof and home-grown capabilities across all industries, explore how to cooperate to develop a wider aerospace and defence ecosystem in India and encourage the development of small and medium
sized enterprises along with a robust national supply chain.
The statement added: Gripen would be offered to the Indian Government as the best solution for India’s single-engine fighter aircraft programme. The collaboration would also include projects, programmes and technologies of national importance to India. The parties’ plan to develop the relationship into a structure of joint ventures in India for execution of the programmes, including the single engine fighter program, in order to support the Make in India policy and exhibit the parties long term commitment to be jointly successful.
Gripen is a modern multi-role fighter aircraft featuring state-of-the-art technology, including advanced data links and sensors plus a unique extensive electronic warfare suite. Gripen can perform all air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions with the most modern range of weapons and systems.