17 Feb 2017 18:48 IST

Saab ready to offer Gripen fighters to IAF, Navy as package

Boeing has also offered its iconic F/A-18 Super Hornet, used by the US Navy, to the Indian Navy

Swedish defence major Saab Group is prepared to meet the need for fighter warplanes in both the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy with its Gripen variants as a "total package."

"End of the day if the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and the government come to the conclusion that they would like to go for both versions (of Gripen), then of course it will be foolish not to discuss a total package," Saab Group President and CEO Håkan Buskhe said on the sidelines of the Aero India show.

Saab Group has offered Gripen E for the Indian Air Force, which is looking to replenish its depleting fleet of fighter jets. It currently needs over 300 fighters. Thus, last October, the government had approached Saab, Boeing and Lockheed Martin with their offers of Gripen, F-18 and F-16 respectively.

Additionally, last month, the Indian Navy said it plans to buy 57 carrier-based warplanes, for which Saab has offered the naval version of Gripen called the Gripen Maritime.

"Today there are two discussions - one for Air Force and one for Navy. But they are tied together with one government. But we need to focus on the first thing first and then think of the other," Buskhe said.

Buskhe, however, also made it clear that the company is looking at a voluminous deal to be able to create a complete industrial ecosystem under 'Make in India' for Gripen as well as full transfer of technology (ToT).

"Of course we don't want a lower number. If it's an extremely low number then it will be hard to make a business case with full technology transfer. That goes without saying. There's no one size fit for all. Then you have to adjust production capabilities," Buskhe added.

But he said being from a small country facing stiff competition from global majors such as the US' Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Saab will focus on "flexibility, affordability and offer the best product."

Buskhe also added that the company is eagerly waiting for the Defence Ministry to finalise the chapter on strategic partnerships under the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 in an effort to finalise partnerships with Indian defence companies for manufacturing the Gripen in India.

Boeing has also offered its iconic F/A-18 Super Hornet, used by the US Navy, to the Indian Navy.

Gripen aircraft, flown by the Swedish Air Force, is participating in air displays on all days of the air show, taking place from February 14-18. In addition, a full scale model of the latest generation Gripen E is also on display at the Yelahanka Air Force base.

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