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Saab keen on desi fighter deal: Official

Amid the raging controversy over the Defence Ministry’s procurement of the Rafale fighter aircraft from French firm Dassault Aviation, a senior Swedish official has said that his country’s firm Saab, in its Gripen aircraft, has the requisite experience to contest for the upcoming Indian deal for manufacturing 110 new fighter jets under the Make in India programme.

Saab keen on desi fighter deal: Official
Representative image

New Delhi

“I know that Saab is interested, they want to be a part of this procurement,” Teppo Tauriainen, Director General for Trade in the Swedish Foreign Ministry, said here. “They think they have something good to offer that will be of interest to India,” Tauriainen said. “They, of course, know what the expectations of the government is in terms of local production and cooperation with a local partner.” India is expected to select one fighter aircraft by the end of this year, that will be manufactured by the private sector under the Make in India programme for supply to the Indian Air Force.

The Saab Gripen will be contesting with the likes of the Russian MiG 35, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A 18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 for the upcoming deal. While MiG has already said that it will have state-owned Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) as its local partner, Indian companies like Tata, Reliance Defence, Mahindra and Adani are in the fray for local partners in the project that is expected to be worth over $20 bn (Rs 1.44 lakh cr).

Tauriainen said for Saab, contesting for the deal will be nothing new as it has signed a similar deal for Gripen with the Brazilian government with Embraer as its local partner. “I have myself visited the Brazilian partner, Embraer, and seen there are a lot of spin-offs locally in the Brazilian economy from this fighter jet deal,” he said. 

“So, I think for Saab, it won’t be unusual to do it the way the Indian government wants it to happen.” During his visit to Sweden in April this year, PM  Narendra Modi had said that defence and security have emerged as an important pillar  of the India-Sweden bilateral partnership.

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