If India chooses the Gripen fighter jet, then the choice of the private Indian company to partner with Sweden’s SAAB to build the aircraft should be the Indian Government’s and “nobody else’s”, Swedish Air Force Chief Maj Gen Mats Eric Helgesson said on Thursday

“If the Indian Government chooses the Gripen, the Indian Government should also chose what kind of counterpart when it comes to industrial cooperation,” he said in an interview to The Hindu. He is on a visit to India on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa.

The offer of the Swedish Government, which SAAB is giving India, is based on the advantages and the strengths of the Gripen not on anything else, Maj Gen Helgesson stated on the capability of the aircraft, 95 of which are flown by the Swedish Air Force.

The Gripen is powered by American GE-414 engine, a variant of which is on the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. Asked if the US may hinder the deal in any way if the Gripen is chosen, Maj Gen Helgesson hoped that the Americans like everybody else with agreements will stick to them.

“So whatever is given in the offer from the Swedish Government from SAAB will be fully realised,” he stated.

The Indian Air Force issued a Request For Information (RFI) in April to procure 114 fighter jets under the Strategic Partnership model and most of them will be built in India by an Indian private partner under technology transfer. IAF is currently evaluating the proposals which includes Gripen from Sweden’s SAAB.