New Delhi: Swedish defence giant Saab and Indian conglomerate Adani group on Friday announced a collaboration in defence manufacturing entailing billions of dollars of investment, mainly eyeing a contract for single-engine fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.
Announcing the deal, the two companies said the project would encompass design, development and production of Gripen jets for India in line with the Make in India initiative.
The government is set to procure a fleet of single-engine fighters for the IAF and US defence firm Lockheed Martin will be a major competitor for Saab for the deal.
The CEO and President of Saab, Hakan Buskhe, said the partnership is aimed at producing single engine fighter jets and other defence products for India under the country's recently unveiled "strategic partnership" model.
He said Saab plans to set up a world-class design and manufacturing facility for Gripen jets in India and it would like to export the aircraft to various markets globally if the Indian government allows it to do so.
Bushke said the company would not like to expand its current capacity fully in existing manufacturing hubs and would like to make India partner in the global Grippen chain.
"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," Buskhe said at a press conference.
Chairman of Adani Group Gautam Adani said his company's tie-up with Saab is in sync with its plan to get into high-tech defence manufacturing.
"In continuation of our vision of nation building, we are keen to play an instrumental role in helping transform India into a destination for world class high-tech defence manufacturing," he said.
He said the partnership is aimed at producing Gripen jets and many other products.
"Our various collaborations in aerospace and defence sectors will help establish new production lines in India, generate employment and build sustainable skills," he said.
Asked why Saab chose to partner with Adani group, which does not have much experience in the aerospace sector, Buskhe said it is one of the top-most firms in India and has performed impressively in several key sectors.
The companies said the collaboration would include projects, programmes and sharing of technologies of national importance with 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 programme," they said.
Saab said it is also looking at supplying the Indian Navy a version of Gripen with advanced features to take off from aircraft carriers.
Saab had offered Gripen for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft deal which was eventually awarded to French Dassaults Rafale.
Asked whether technology transfer would be difficult as Gripen jet engine has components developed by US defence majors, particularly under Donald Trump's presidency, Bushke said there should not be any problem over it.
The two companies said the collaboration 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.
"Saab and Adani will explore how to cooperate to develop a wider aerospace and defence ecosystem in India," they said.
Updated Date: Sep 01, 2017 22:35:19 IST