Saab, the Swedish aerospace and defence giant has showcased its technologies and traced out its future plans at the DefExpo to assist India to sustain its conquest in being a self-reliant defence equipment manufacturing hub. Gripen NG fighter aircraft and the A26 submarines are the prime offers from the Swedish giant. Saab feels these equipments will serve as force multipliers for India.
With the incorporation of five operational segments diversifying to Aeronautics, Dynamics, Electronic Defence Systems, Support and Service and Industrial Products and Service Divisions to cater the needs of its customer nations, Saab has been a leading aerospace and defence technology provider in the global arena with a revenue of over $27 billion.
They made their mark in India by establishing the Saab India Technologies Private Limited, a fully owned subsidiary in 2007 and has been a lead aerospace and naval technology provider for India.
The driving force in Saab’s sustained Indian campaign is the strong bilateral relationship shared by India and Sweden, which were setup in 1949. Both the countries signed a MoU on defence co-operation in 2009. Successive regimes have worked relentlessly to nurture this blooming relationship, which is now valued at US $ 2.6 billion. Companies like Saab and Volvo have been at the epicentre of this relationship and are the nurturing forces.
Saab has been catering to Indian needs for the past 40 years and began its operations with the Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifles. Saab thereafter collaborated with India’s Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) to develop a new version of these rifles. To strength its ties with India, Saab signed a supply-cum-co-operation agreement in 1970. India had expressed interest in Saab’s Viggen aircraft; however, USA vetoed the deal citing its critical technologies on the aircraft.
Ever since, the relationships between Indian industries and Saab have taken a major spin-off. Even though the Bofors were initially riddled with controversies, the artillery pieces proved their might during the Kargil conflict by tremendously supporting our infantry forces. By the millennium, Saab had established a strong base in India and is emerging as a lead technology provider.
Saab with its Gripen NG fighter aircraft was a leading contender in India’s ambitious Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender. The winning company was to provide Indian Air Force (IAF) with 126 fighter aircraft and the tender was valued at US $ 8 billion. The Gripen NG was still in early stages of development and was subsequently ruled out. The aircraft has now matured to be one of the world’s best fighter aircraft.
Saab has worked closely with India’s private aerospace and marine industry.
- Saab holds 26% of shares in Aequs and QuEST Global Manufacturing of Belgaum and has engaged these companies for producing aero-structure assemblies.
- Tata Advanced Materials and Reliance are producing aircraft materials for Saab.
- Saab has set-up Saab India Technology Centre (SITC) in partnership with Tech Mahindra. The technology centre is engaged in extensive R&D activities related to aerospace and marine technologies.
- Saab has a tie-up with Wipro for the development of LEDS technology.
- BEL is working closely with Saab to produce state-of-the-art costal surveillance systems.
- As part of its future operations in India, Saab has set-up strategic partnerships with Kalyani groups and Mahindra.
- Saab has provided Integrated Defense Aids Suite (IDAS) system for HAL developed ALH Dhruv. These fully integrated multi-spectral Electronic Warfare (EW) systems provide self protection for airborne platforms. These systems can be used to warn the pilots against enemy radars and approaching missiles further the system automatically dispenses chaffs and flares to confuse heating seeking missiles. HAL in the future will manufacture IDAS systems with Saab’s support in India.
Saab has provided numerous critical sub-systems for Indian navy’s combatant platforms. Saab has set-up Combat Systems Engineering Group with Pipavav shipyards. The Swedish giant has made strategic investments in the shipyard and has drawn several technical partnership agreements. Saab holds 3.33% of shares in Pipavav.
Saab has already declared its absolute support to ‘Make In India’. The complete ToT and willingness to be more of an Indian company might heed up to good prospects for both the nation and the company. The Swedish giant has enough of requirement from the peninsular nation and has the advanced technologies from which the Indian armed forces can keep their arsenal much equipped.