New Delhi: Reiterating Sweden’s commitment to partner with India, Swedish Defence Secretary Jan Salestrand on Tuesday hinted that Sweden may offer to export its state-of-the-art Gripen fighter to the world from India.
In an exclusive interview with Times Now, Salestrand said that in case of a strategic cooperation with India on the Gripen fighter, Sweden “plans” to set up facilities and recruit personnel, who in turn can manufacture the aircraft from Indian soil. Salestrand’s comments are significant on the backdrop of a push to Make in India by the present day government.
“They (SAAB- manufacturer of Gripen) plan to build a new plant here in India. They plan and recruit new personnel and set up a full facility. And I think that could be a good idea because it is easier then to get going. Probably, the first planes will be built in Sweden and quickly, the production could be done more or less in India,” Salestrand told Times Now.
“We have some Gripen customers already, which we are happy. Brazil is one major customer that we will deliver 36 aircraft to within some years and hopefully, there would be another batch later on. So the more we will be in a very expensive and a technically advanced project like this, the better it will be for everyone. That remains to be seen. I can see that there is a great interest from a number of countries,” he further said.
While the Indian government is likely to roll out a Request for Information (RFI) early next year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has expressed an interest in the fighter which was in the competition to India’s multi-role fighter.
Sweden, it is learnt, has already submitted documents to the Defence Ministry reiterating its commitment to the project, Salestrand said that Sweden looks at India as a strategic partner and that the number of planes to be supplied is “totally up to India”.
“As I understand, it is a matter of more than 100 planes in the longer run. That remains to be seen,” he said. “We see it as equal level (partnership) and we will try to share as much as we can,” he added when asked about the Transfer of Technology.