Adani, Saab to battle it out with Tata, Lockheed for fighter jet deal
New Delhi: Adani Group chief executive Gautam Adani on Friday said the group has tied up with Sweden’s Saab AB to make Gripen fighter jets in India if the latter wins an Indian Air Force contract also being sought by a Tata group-Lockheed Martin combine.
Adani said the group plans to make fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, radar technology and composites over the long term, and will choose partners based on their willingness to part with technology.
The $12 billion Adani Group has interests in energy, logistics, real estate and fast-moving consumer goods, among others.
Adani did not specify when these plans will take off but said India needed to be self-reliant in defence and hoped that by 2030 this goal will be achieved, giving a boost to the country’s “regional security”.
The partnership with Saab, Adani said, will be “historic”. “We are keen to play an instrumental role in helping transform India into a destination for world-class high-tech defence manufacturing,” he added.
Mint first reported the alliance between Saab and Adani Group in February.
Adani made the announcement with Saab president and CEO Håkan Buskhe in the national capital. Buskhe said the company will invest “billions of dollars” if the alliance wins the order, and added that it is prepared to export Gripen from India if the government allows it to do so.
“Our plans in India are to create a new defence ecosystem that will involve many partners, vendors and suppliers. To achieve this, we need a strong Indian partner who can help create the framework for the infrastructure and ecosystem to come into place,” said Buskhe.
Saab will also share source codes and does not foresee any problems arising with the US for such transfers. Gripen has some US-made parts and firms typically have to take permission before sharing anything with a third country.
Saab is one of two firms in the race for India’s next multi-billion-dollar fighter jet order.
Lockheed Martin Corp. of the US has already picked Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, a subsidiary of Tata Sons as its local partner to produce F-16s that will compete for the contract with Saab’s Gripen.
India signed a deal in September last year to buy 36 twin-engine Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation SA for around $8.7 billion, the country’s first major acquisition of combat planes in two decades.
The deal is being executed by Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group in partnership with Rafale in India.
To a question on what Adani Group, with no background in aerospace, would bring to the table, Ashish Rajvanshi, head of defence and aerospace at Adani Group, said that a few years back the Tatas and Reliance Group had no experience in the power sector but were now running large units.
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