Swedish aerospace company Saab has offered India a new fighter jet factory if the defense organization is able to secure a deal to supply New Delhi with over 200 military jets. Saab is currently neck and neck with US company Lockheed Martin to supply India’s Air Force with 250 single engine combat planes.
With “the world’s most modern” factory for military aircraft, Saab claims that they would be able to manufacture Gripen E fighters both for markets across the globe as well as India.
In a statement released Friday Saab India chairman Jan Widerstrom said the proposal “is an unrivaled offer that will set new standards in aeronautical engineering excellence for decades to come, should India procure Gripen.”
The factory proposal comes as Lockheed Martin awaits approval from President Donald Trump to set up a production line for the F-16 combat craft in India.
A Lockheed spokesperson said in a statement, “We’ve briefed the administration on the current proposal, which was supported by the Obama administration as part of a broader cooperative dialogue with the government of India…We understand that the Trump administration will want to take a fresh look at some of these programs and we stand prepared to support that effort to ensure that any deal of this importance is properly aligned with U.S. policy priorities.” Saab’s offer is also happening against the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushing for New Dehli to lessen its dependence on pricey defense technology from abroad, as it prepares beef up its military muscle against China’s growing regional presence.
The country has instituted a “Make in India” campaign, which aims to make the country a “global manufacturing hub,” by encouraging foreign and local partnerships and limiting foreign investments in defense matters.
Widerstrom said, “Saab is offering an industrial facility that will be the center-of-gravity for the Made-in-India Gripen.”
Last year, after difficulties and delays trying to assembles Rafale jets in India the country signed an $8.8 billion dollar contract to buy 36 of the twin-engine fighter jets.
Dassault Aviation wrote in a statement at the time that the deal “illustrates the strategic relationship and the exemplary partnership maintained between the two countries and marks the natural culmination of the relationship of trust initiated in 1953 when India became Dassault Aviation’s first export customer.”