SAAB is in the fray for a contract to supply around 110 fighter planes to India under the Multi Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) program

Swedish defence major SAAB is planning to hold meetings with Indian companies in October to develop ecosystem in the country for manufacturing multi-role fighter aircraft, a top official of the company said here.

SAAB is in the fray for a contract to supply around 110 fighter planes to India under the Multi Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) program. The Indian Air Force in April 2018 issued an initial tender or Request for Information (RFI) for the billion dollar procurement deal.

SAAB responded to the initial tender in July 2018 with its Gripen-E MRFA.

Mats Palmberg, VP Industrial Partnerships and Head of Gripen India Campaign told PTI here that the company has undertaken surveys for Aero-Structures parts, such as sub-assemblies, machined parts and sheet metal parts.

"The industry evaluation tour will take place for 10 days in mid-October. A dozen Indian SMEs suitable for systems manufacturing will be a team consisting of different SAAB companies, international system suppliers headed by members of the Gripen for India team, " Palmberg said on sideline of India Sweden Innovation Day.

The upcoming meetings with Indian firms will be a follow-up of the B2B (Business to Business) event SAAB held in Delhi a couple of years ago.

Palmberg said SAAB has been holding continuous discussions with the company's international partners and suppliers and with the Indian companies.

"Some discussions have resulted in MoUs with a mutual intention to work together on a broader basis in defence and also in the execution phase of the Gripen-E program in India," he said.

The company has SAAB India Tech Centre (SITC) in Hyderabad, which together with Tech Mahindra is undertaking Gripen development work.

SAAB also has a joint company with Aequs in Belgaum for sub-assemblies.

"We also have contracts with suppliers for machine and sheet metal parts. All these products are exported out of India for our commercial programs with Airbus and Boeing. We are actively working to increase and broaden sourcing from India to increase levels of volume as well as complexity," Palmberg said.

SAAB claims Gripen-E to be the most modern fighter.

"The offer of Gripen-E also consists of the most comprehensive transfer of capability packages focused on building indigenous capabilities to design, develop, produce and maintain a modern state of the art fighter system platform.

"The build-up of those capabilities will require substantial investments from the Indian as well as from international partners. Investments will need to be made in facilities, training, machinery etc," Palmberg said.