Saab Pitches Modern Combat Jet Plant In India In Two-Horse Race with Lockheed (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters India; published Feb 10, 2017)
By Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI --- Sweden's Saab has offered to build the world's most modern fighter aircraft factory in India, it said on Friday, as it goes head-to-head with U.S. rival Lockheed Martin to supply hundreds of locally produced planes to India's military.

Saab's pitch for its Gripen E aircraft comes a day after Lockheed said it is pushing ahead with its proposal to transfer the production line of its F-16 fighter to India, even though it understands that President Donald Trump's administration may want to take a fresh look at such plans.

The race to supply the Indian Air Force with an estimated 200 to 250 fighter planes over the next decade has narrowed to Saab and Lockheed after the Indian defence ministry floated an initial request for a single-engine combat plane in October.

"We are offering to set up the world's most modern (aerospace) ecosystem and facility in India to manufacture the Gripen for India and the global market," Kent-Ake Molin, Gripen's product sales director, told reporters.

Saab was in talks with nearly 100 aerospace and defence firms in India to provide components for the production of the plane which would lay the industrial base for India to design, develop and build future fighters.

"What we are offering is a futuristic, new generation plane and not one that is the reaching the end of its life and is being replaced by air forces around the world," Molin said, in a dig at the F-16.

Lockheed has offered to build the F-16 Block 70 in India which it said was the newest and most advanced version of the plane that is flying with the air forces of 25 countries around the world.

It said the proposed Indian facility for making the F-16s would be the only one in the world as the existing plant in Fort Worth, Texas switches to producing the fifth generation F-35 for the U.S. Air Force. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the Reuters India website.

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Saab Dangles Sweetened Gripen Deal (excerpt)
(Source: The Asian Age; published Feb 11, 2017)
By Sanjib Kr Baruah
NEW DELHI --- Buoyed by policy developments in the US and sensing a golden opportunity to sell its Gripen E fighter jets to India, Sweden’s defence firm Saab has renewed its offer to set up a modern facility in India to build the fighters. It is also looking to export the jets from the Indian facility.

The offer is subject to the condition that India orders the Gripen E for the IAF, an order that is expected to be finalised by next month.

The Gripen E is locked in a close contest with the US-based Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to bag the combat aircraft contract for the IAF.

While Lockheed Martin had offered to move its sole production line of the F 16-Block 70 to India from Texas to meet Indian and global requirements, on Thursday, the company had said that the Trump administration will take a “fresh look” at some of these programmes and declared the company’s commitment to “align” with US policy priorities.

It was also reported that with Lockheed Martin not getting any fresh F-16 orders from Pentagon, it plans to use its Fort Worth facility in Texas to make the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

On Friday, Kent-Ake Molin, director, sales and marketing for Gripen, asked: “Should India be looking at aircraft that are at the end phase of its design life or should it go for an ultra-modern fighter?”

At the same time, Mr Molin told this newspaper: “We are not too focused what others are doing. I am spending all my time in trying to bring all that is best for India regardless of what others are doing”.

Asked if any locations have been identified in India for the ultra-modern facility, he said: “There are a lot of attractive propositions across India. We are analysing and evaluating all possibilities and of course there will have to be consultation with the state governments too”.

The IAF is already facing a severe shortage of fighter squadrons. It has 33 squadrons now, much short of its critical strength of 42 squadrons.


Click here for the full story, on the Asian Age website.

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