India has cancelled the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender. What are the future prospects for Saab in India?
Gripen is the world’s leading single-engine aircraft and is of interest for the Indian government; and our true technology transfer programme fits very well into the government of India’s programme, Make in India. If there is an interest for Gripen, Gripen will be developed, produced and finally assembled in India.
Would you be open to manufacture Gripen fighter aircraft in India? If yes, what are the conditions?
Saab is not only offering to set up a base here but also help in the development of aerospace capability for the next 100 years. We could, with true ToT (transfer of technology), provide Indian Air Force with an Indian-built combat aircraft of the future, with technology of Gripen E. Saab has a ready-made blueprint for India that meets every aspect of India’s ambitions: an aircraft that is ahead of its contemporaries, a platform for building future aircraft based on what Indian engineers have already learned from various programmes and, most importantly, a ready-to roll “India Make Plan”.
Could you elaborate on ToT?
We are offering real technology transfer. Sweden does not attach strings to its high technology. Saab is committed to India and will deliver the best industrial cooperation and technology transfer over the life of the programme—providing what India’s armed forces and industry wants and needs. That is totally in line with the Make in India Initiative.
What is the kind of strategy adopted by Saab in India? What are the updates on existing joint ventures?
We have participated in a number of programmes with various arms of the defence forces and are quite pleased with the progress. We are quite confident our prospects in the two large air defence programmes—VHSORAD (very short-range air defence) and SRSAM (short range surface-to-air missile) where we have successfully completed the trials. We are now waiting for the next steps.
Saab has a wide portfolio of products and we are in dialogue with the armed forces and homeland security forces for a whole range of sophisticated equipment, including avionics, air defence systems, advanced surveillance and foliage penetrating radars, camouflage, battle management systems, ground combat systems, naval and coast guard systems, electronic warfare systems and communication equipment, among others.
Saab is currently pursuing many individual opportunities in the requirements of the Indian defence forces.
Who are your partners in India?
We work closely with partners such as Bharat Electronics Ltd, Hindustand Aeronautics Ltd and Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co. Ltd. Saab has a partnership with Indianeye Security Pvt. Ltd for supplying Agile Tactical Engagement Simulation (ATES) equipment to Indian armed forces, paramilitary, special forces and police.
Saab and Bharat Forge Ltd have signed an agreement to work together on the Indian Army air defence project VSHORAD. Also, Saab and Ashok Leyland Ltd have entered into an agreement to work together as partner for the Indian Army Air Defence project for the SRSAM based on the Saab BAMSE (ground based missile) system. Ashok Leyland will deliver high mobility vehicles for the BAMSE/SRSAM solution.
In 2012, Saab, in collaboration with Elcome Marine Services Pvt. Ltd (of Navi Mumbai), implemented the National Automatic Identification System on the Indian coastline for India’s Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL). The project involved setting up of sensors and equipment to help secure the entire Indian coastline.
Saab is also working with many suppliers of machinery and composite parts in India, including CIM Tools Pvt. Ltd (of Bengaluru), Tata Advanced Material Ltd and Aequs Pvt Ltd (former QUEST Global Manufacturing). These companies play a very valuable role in helping Saab develop, industrialize and manufacture complex airframe assemblies for Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. Our joint venture with Aequs manufactures and supplies assemblies for the global commercial aero structures market.
Saab India Technologies has set up the Saab India Technology Centre, a research and development centre, in partnership with Tech Mahindra Ltd in Hyderabad. It forms an important bridge for the transfer of the latest in defence technologies between India and Sweden.
These alliances will go a long way in helping Saab fulfil its vision—of becoming a true and genuine partner to India’s defence industry. We are committed to true transfer of technology and investing in the future of Indian defence industry and here to stay for the long haul to build an indigenous defence industry in India.
Any plans to buy equity stake in Indian companies?
Equity is a way of building business, not a means to deliver on a programme only. We have done that in the past and will of course communicate it if we do that in the future.
Why is India is an attractive market?
India is an attractive market for us just as there are other markets where Saab sees good opportunity, including Brazil, many countries in Europe and all of Asia-Pacific.
There is of course special promise in the Indian market given the large and varied requirement for modernization of equipment in tandem with the Make in India programme.
For instance, India will be the engine for the aerospace industry in the next half a century. Not merely for military aircraft but for virtually every category of aerospace: military and civilian helicopters and aircraft; unmanned aerial vehicles for military and homeland security purposes and so forth. We are equally convinced that in the decade ahead, India will have its own home-grown large aerospace company.
India is one of the most interesting markets for Saab. Additionally Saab has operations in 34 countries and have sold our products and solutions to over 100 countries in the world.