SAAB has an ace up its sleeve when it comes to its single engine Gripen E meeting the grueling requirements of the Indian Air Force in a highly competitive market. This latest model is already being flown by the Swedish and the Brazilian forces. Further, SAAB can competitively field its products in areas as diverse as C4I, Sensors Maritime security and civil security applications. Nitin A Gokhale, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of BharatShakti.in interviewed Jan Widerstrom, Country Head and Chairman, SAAB India Technologies Pvt Ltd.
JAN WIDERSTROM, COUNTRY HEAD – SAAB INDIA TECHNOLOGIES SPEAKS TO
NITIN A GOKHALE, FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BHARATSHAKTI.IN
Nitin A Gokhale (NG): SAAB unveiled its latest version of combat jet last summer. How has been the response to the new product?
Jan Widerstrom (JW): The response and interest in Gripen E is very high. We’re currently in discussion with many countries, and are confident about the prospects for Gripen E. It is the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world today, and the design and development philosophy behind Gripen E will ensure that it stays ahead of the curve for many decades to come. It has already been procured by Sweden and Brazil, and we are excited about the future.
NG: What are your company’s plans for India?
JW: India is one of our most important markets and partner countries. We have been here for more than forty years now, and we see strong growth potential, both in terms of opportunities and in terms of partnerships with Indian industry. We are currently pursuing many individual opportunities in the requirements of the Indian defence forces. Saab is very active in active in India offering high-tech solutions and products such as the C4I, EW (Self Protection Systems), Signature Management, Missile & Weapon Systems, Aeronautical Platforms, Sensors, Radars, Maritime Security and Civil Security.
NG: Are you in talks with the Indian government over the single engine combat jet?
JW: We received a letter late last year asking about our interest in an Indian requirement for single engine fighters, to which we responded positively. We are confident that we have the best proposal for India’s requirement, keeping in mind air power, industrial cooperation and technology sharing.
NG: Are there any other products that SAAB can offer to Indian armed forces?
JW: We have a very strong portfolio of products and solutions, ranging from fighter aircraft to submarines, and a wide range in between. We have participated in a number of programs with various arms of the defence forces and are quite pleased with the progress of different programs. We have participated in the air defence programs VSHORAD and SRAM, and are confident that our proposed systems are the best-suited for the requirements.
NG: How would SAAB help India realise its Make in India programme in aerospace sector?
JW: We will provide the Indian Air Force with an Indian-built combat aircraft of the future, with next generation technology. We are ready with a blue print for setting up aerospace facilities in India that are at par with our establishment in Sweden; an aircraft that is ahead of its contemporaries; a platform for building future aircraft and, most importantly, a strong Make in India plan.
We are offering real technology transfer. We do not attach strings to our technology. Saab is committed to India and will deliver the best industrial cooperation and technology transfer over the life of the programme. We see India as the engine for aerospace industry in the next half a century. Saab would like to be part of this potent future that new India is heralding for itself. We have the full support from the Swedish government for our India offer.
NG: What are your plans for Aero India 2017?
JW: Saab is participating in full strength at Aero India 2017 at Hall C and outdoors. At the Saab stand, there are dedicated displays and augmented reality exhibits showcasing our key products & systems. We are exhibiting the revolutionary Gripen E, along with our cutting-edge technologies and capabilities in aviation systems, ground-based air defence systems, ground combat systems, electronic warfare and naval systems – solutions that demonstrate our long and successful track record in developing ground-breaking technologies and pioneering innovations. We will be displaying the RBS 70 NG VSHORAD and the BAMSE SRAM, our world-leading air defence solutions, and our IDAS system, which is the self-protection suite on the Dhruv helicopter. We also have Gripen aircraft at the event, performing flight displays.
NG: What’s your assessment of India’s new defence acquisition policy? How do see the plans for strategic partners evolving?
JW: We see the recent moves to liberalise FDI norms in the defence sector as very positive, and a strong sign that the Indian government is committed to boost defence manufacturing in India. We would like to see more details on the strategic partners proposal before we comment on it.
NG: Thank you for speaking to BharatShakti.in