Sweden is conducting an ambitious “government-to-government” multibillion-dollar deal to offer Saab’s Gripen-NG fighter to India. The Gripen-NG was provisionally offered to India during a meet between senior Swedish and Indian government officials in Mumbai on February 14-15.
Saab was part of a Swedish government-funded high-powered trade group consisting many of Sweden’s leading industrial corporations, including Ericsson, Volvo, ABB, Scania and BAE Systems Hägglunds AB.
The Saab fighter jet is a light, single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. The Gripen has a delta wing and canard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire flight controls.
It is powered by the Volvo RM12 and has a top speed of Mach 2. Later aircraft are modified for (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) NATO interoperability standards and to undertake air to air refuelling.
Swedish ambassador Klas Molin stated “Sweden’s Gripen fighter jet is an ‘extremely cost-effective’ option for India’s plan to acquire 114 multi-role combat planes and its manufacturer Saab International is fully prepared to develop and make the aircraft in India.
Henk Roetert, a Berlin-based political analyst said “The Swedish view is that there is room for more than one supplier of fighter aircraft to India. It would seem that initial talks with India raised the prospect that a formal offer could be structured on terms that mirror Saab’s $4.68 billion fighter deal with Brazil.”
Molin also said India and the European Union (EU) should initiate a conversation on the proposed broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement, adding Sweden was not dispirited by New Delhi’s recent decision withdraw from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Negotiations alone can overcome “difficult” issues between the two sides, he Molin said.
Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia are expected to visit India accompanied by a delegation that includes foreign minister Ann Linde and business and innovation minister Ibrahim Baylan to pitch in trade and defence ties. Besides meeting President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Swedish head of state will travel to Mumbai and Uttarakhand.
Saab is among the defence firms who responded to the Indian Air Force’s 2018 initial tender for 114 multi-role combat jets to be manufactured in India along with a partnership between a domestic company and a foreign manufacturer. The other contenders were France’s Rafale, F/A-18 and F-21 of the US, MiG-35 and Sukhoi-35 of Russia, and Eurofighter Typhoon.
Molin mentioned about Saab International’s presence in India and its partnership with Tech Mahindra. Molin said “Some of the key points regarding the Gripen system is that it’s extremely cost-effective, it’s a single-engine aircraft, it’s multi-role and the life cycle cost, because of the way it’s been designed, makes it much less expensive than many others while maintaining quality and operability.