Swedish defence major SAAB announced its tie-up with Adani Group to manufacture the Gripen E fighter jets in India under the Defence Ministry’s $10 billion single-engine fighter jet procurement programme.
The announcement comes within months of US’ Lockheed Martin announcing its joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems for producing the latest version of F-16 in India.
“SAAB is looking for long-term partnership and willing to transfer technology and skills. Gripen will be offered to the Indian government as one of the best solution for India’s single engine fighter aircraft,” said Gautam Adani, Chairman, Adani Group, here on Friday announcing the joint venture.
In October last year, the Indian Air Force had floated a request for information (RFI) to leading aerospace players globally to come up with their offers.
Subsequently, the Defence Ministry narrowed down its choice to SAAB’s Gripen E and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70.
“We will be building a new fighter with the latest technology … We believe we have a strong partnership that could enable and fulfil the requirements of the government,” said Håkan Buskhe, CEO and President, SAAB.
The $800-million SAAB Aeronautics, which has already bagged $5 billion worth of global orders for Gripen, is planning to set up an entire production and assembly line in India to co-produce the jets under the ‘Make in India’ programme.
Gripen had lost out to Rafale in 2011 during a bidding process for medium multi-role combat aircraft.
However, the company has upgraded the Gripen since then. Gripen is now being used by the air forces of Hungary, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil and Czech Republic.
Apparently, talks were revived when Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year in February when the deal with Adani was also sealed.