Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Nov 21, 2006
Logistics - Airlines
Government - Security
Saab to set up Bangalore base for fighter jet arm Gripen
The Gripen JAS 39C/D fighter is one of the four-five entries in the race for the Indian Air Force's plan to buy 126 multi-role combat aircraft.
Gripen International will be joining Bangalore's growing aviation denizens from January.
Bangalore , Nov. 20
Swedish defence and aerospace major Saab will soon start mounting its India campaign, by landing in New Delhi and setting up a Bangalore base for its fighters exporting arm, Gripen International. It will also make a visible entry at the Aero India show in February.
Both the developments will mark the SEK 19,314-million Saab's first significant presence in the country. Its star export product, the Gripen JAS 39C/D fighter, is one of the four-five entries in the race for the Indian Air Force's plan to buy 126 multi-role combat aircraft and is said to serve for 30-40 years.
Gripen International, a venture of Saab formed with BAE Systems to market the twin-seater fourth generation fighters, will be joining Bangalore's growing aviation denizens from January 1, according to Mr Tony Ogilvy, its India Director. As lead campaigner for the JAS 39, he would shift base from Stockholm and operate from New Delhi and Bangalore, he told Business Line.
The IAF order is estimated at around Rs 30,000 crore ($6-7 billion.) The deal involves a mandatory 30 per cent offset or exportable spinoffs for the domestic industry. Lead player Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will manufacture the winning bidder's aircraft.
Saab's offset route would be 26 per cent joint ventures with prospective Indian partners in software, manufacturing, engine and engineering. "We would like to look at joint venture activity rather than a straightforward offset discharge," Mr Ogilvy said.
The Gripen campaign, seen as important politically and economically, would start off small from the Swedish International Council office in Bangalore while the size of its staff and new office is being decided.
A campaign team would begin interacting with HAL. Mr Ogilvy termed the IAF's acquisition plan the "biggest order in the history of big (defence) orders for three decades" and added, "Whoever wins the contract, it will mean a step change in the way this business is done, as the technology will be transferred from the Linköping-based facility and the aircraft will be manufactured here in Bangalore."
The IAF's request for intent was issued in 2004. The contenders - Gripen JAS, Lockheed Martin's F-16, Boeing IDS's F/A-18 and Dassault's Mirage and MiG Corp - are awaiting the next step, request for proposal.
Currently 188 JAS versions are in service. For South Africa, Saab opened a joint venture for software development, but India would not require a similar facility. In recent years, it won two deals - for 14 planes each from the Czech Republic and Hungary; and has a leasing and an innovative financing scheme on offer.
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