Saab Technologies tied up with the Adani Group to bid for a contract to make light single-engine fighter aircraft under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative.
The Swedish company will offer to build its Gripen aircraft in India if it wins the contract, Saab Technologies Chief Executive Officer Hakan Buskhe said in a media briefing on Friday. It may even consider exporting fighter jets from India if the government allows, he said.
The Saab-Adani alliance will compete with Tata-Lockheed to equip the Indian military with locally produced single-engine jets to reduce dependence on imports. Lockheed has picked India’s Tata Advanced Systems as its local partner to produce its F-16 fighter planes. The Indian Air Force had shortlisted the American F-16 and the Gripen fighter aircraft to make up for the shortfall of fighter squadrons.
If it wins the contract, the Saab-Adani partnership is expected to manufacture about 100 single-jet fighters for the Indian defence system for nearly $15 billion, reported AFP, citing people with knowledge of the matter who it did not identify. The Gripen aircraft is designed to meet the needs of India’s defence forces for the next 50-60 years, Saab India Head Jan Widerstrom said.
The Adani Group is discussing research and development activities for Gripen with Saab and is working on a plan to manufacture composite aerospace parts in India, Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani said at the press conference.
India is expected to spend $35 billion on fighter jets over the next decade, according to a report by Bernstein. Nearly 57 percent of India’s active fleet has surpassed 80 percent of their operational life, the report said. MIG21, MIG27 and Jaguar class of fighter jets are close to completing their operational life, it added.