Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist is expected to offer Gripen NG fighter aircraft as a “make in India” deal in collaboration with an Indian partner for the light attack aircraft project which is planned as a successor to the LCA Tejas.
Hultqvist is expected to visit the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Bharat Electronics Limited units in Bengaluru.
He is scheduled to hold talks with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on June 10. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had in April said his government was in talks with Swedish defense company Saab Group to set up a production unit in his state.
Saab has been promoting the Gripen even after it lost out in India’s MMRCA race. Saab has expressed interest in setting up a manufacturing base in Maharashtra and even presented a business plan with transfer of technology and a proposal to collaborate with Indian companies if land and power are assured to them, Fadnavis had tweeted on micro-blogging site, twitter on April 16.
"It was great to be at the aerospace and defense company SAAB at Linkoping, Sweden. Promised a defense manufacturing policy in Maharashtra soon," Phadnavis tweeted.
On May 31 this year, the Indian MoD had invited Saab and Rosoboronexport among international manufacturers to make presentations to the Indian MoD on the purchase of a light fighter to replace the MiG-21 aircraft.
The single-engine fighter will figure below the Dassault Rafale and completely replace the MiG-21s which form the bulk of the Indian Air Force’s fighter fleet. Industry sources told defenseworld.net that the process of making presentations has started and a couple of manufacturers have already completed their initial pitch.
Saab is likely to insist on a government-to-government (G2G) deal if they step in to assist India in developing and manufacturing a light fighter.
Indian defense minister Manohar Parrikar had hinted in April that India may purchase a second fighter after the Dassault Rafale as a make-in-India project. "Rafale is not a replacement for MiG-21. The LCA is a replacement for MiG-21. Or, if we build some other fighter under 'Make in India', that is also possible. If we build another single engine (fighter plane) in India, which is possible, that could be a replacement for the MiG-21", Parrikar had said during the course of an interview with the government owned Doordrshan TV channel.
With changed FDI rules and the ‘Make-in-India’ campaign, it is expected that Swedish government would look at India as a manufacturing base.