Swedish defence giant SAAB has partnered with Adani to manufacture Gripen multi-role aircraft in India, with the deal estimated to be worth over $15 billion

The contours of the partnership between Swedish defence giant SAAB and India’s Adani Group are likely to be formalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Sweden, beginning April 16.

“SAAB has shown serious interest in manufacturing Gripen aircraft in India under the Make in India campaign,” Subrata Bhattacharjee, the Joint Secretary at Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) Central Europe division, told reporters at a press briefing on PM Modi’s two-nation visit to Sweden and the United Kingdom (UK) on Thursday.

“As part of his engagements on April 17, the second day of his bilateral visit, PM Modi is scheduled to address a gathering of Swedish business leaders,” Bhattacharjee said.

“PM Modi and his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven will address the gathering and some of the CEOs from the gathering will get a chance to speak very briefly and put across their viewpoint,” Bhattacharjee said, adding that he wasn’t aware of any one-on-one interaction between SAAB’s representatives and the Indian Prime Minister.

Even as he refused to divulge the specifics of the pacts due to be sealed between the two countries, it was reported this week that a general security agreement, which would allow Sweden to share sensitive technology with India, will be signed during PM Modi’s visit.

SAAB has partnered with the Adani Group in defence manufacturing, with the joint venture between the two companies expected to bid for supplying fighter jets to the Indian Air Force. According to Request for Information (RFI) floated by the Ministry of Defence earlier this month, the IAF is looking to procure 82-82 single-seat fighter jets and 27-28 twin-seaters in an acquisition that would cost the taxpayer $15 billion.

SAAB executives confirmed at the DefExpo 2018 that they had received Indian government’s RFI, adding that the defence company would be proposing Gripen-E multirole fighter jet to the IAF.

First visit to Sweden by an Indian PM since 1988

“I am sure SAAB qualifies for the program,” Bhattacharjee said.

Last year, Adani Group’s CEO Gautam Adani had stated that the Scandinavian defence major was willing to transfer technology and skills to the Indian company. “SAAB is looking for long-term partnership and willing to transfer technology and skills,” he had said.

Besides SAAB, America’s Boeing FA-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Eurofighter Typhoon are in the fray for the multi-billion-dollar contract.

As per the RFI, 85% of the aircraft will have to be manufactured under the Make in India program, for which the players would have to partner with an Indian company.

PM Modi’s maiden trip to Sweden will be the first by an Indian PM since 1988.