SAAB is one of seven aerospace companies competing in the MRFA program to provide 114 multi-role fighter jets to the Indian Air Force (IAF), bidding for its Gripen-E.

As reported by Gaston Dubios the Aviacionline site, Swedish aerospace and defence company SAAB, which had signed a partnership agreement with the Adani Group to manufacture the Gripen E fighter in India, said Monday that it was no longer going ahead with the deal.

«We have decided not to go ahead with the Adani deal,» Mats Palmberg, chairman and managing director of SAAB India, told a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.

SAAB and Adani Group had announced their partnership on August 31, 2017. The agreement between the two would come into effect if SAAB is selected as a foreign partner to supply the Gripen E fighter.

In addition to SAAB, there are Boeing with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-15EX (U.S.), Lockheed Martin with its F-21 (U.S.), Dassault with the Rafale (France), Eurofighter Typhoon (Europe), and two fighters from Russia: the MiG-35 and Sukhoi-35.

Asked who SAAB would partner with to build the Gripen E in India, Palmberg said that, provided the Indian MINISTRY of Defence allowed SAAB to own 74% of the manufacturing entity-which was allowed under the limit on foreign direct investment in aerospace and defence manufacturing-he would opt to manufacture the fighters in a company in which SAAB owned 74%.

The MoD has issued a request for information and is understood to be evaluating the OEMs’ responses. The ministry’s next step will be to draft an acceptance of need and then issue a request for proposal.

The MRFA Competition, Or The MMRCA 2.0.

The Indian Air Force had issued an international tender in 2007 for the procurement of 126 medium-weight multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA program), to equip eight squadrons, to retire from active service a large variety of aircraft models that were rapidly approaching obsolescence. However, after years of back and forth, the tender was cancelled in 2015 and it was decided instead to buy 36 Rafale fighters directly from Dassault to cover the most urgent needs.

MRCA India

The MMRCA competition was also known as MRCA. However, this left the IAF with a serious shortfall of fighter aircraft, necessitating the launch of a new international tender for 114 4.5-generation fighters in 2018, now under the MRFA (Multi Role Fighter Aircraft) program, to equip about 6 squadrons of fighter aircraft.

Under the «Make in India» initiative, one of the key requirements of the MRFA (as it was of the defunct MMRCA program) is that foreign companies partner with local companies to produce as many of the fighter components, as well as their assembly and servicing, in India.

SAAB’s Offer

According to SAAB’s «Gripen for India» subsite, if India chooses the Gripen, SAAB will manufacture 96 of the 114 aircraft needed by the Indian Air Force at the proposed industrial base in India. This would mean the creation of numerous high-tech jobs in the country.

SAAB offers a high degree of customization on its Gripen, so that India can integrate the domestically manufactured avionics and weapons systems of its choice.

Gripen India

SAAB’s offer is to develop an independent industrial base that can design, develop, produce, upgrade and maintain the Gripen system, thus going beyond the mere construction of subcomponents with Indian partners. But in addition to the Gripen, this base will also provide technological support to indigenous fighter programs such as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS MK-2 and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

But now SAAB will have to look for an alternative to the partnership with the Adani Group, which will better position them for the MRFA competition.