‘India, Sweden strategic ties will take-off with Gripen deal’

The Swedish government believes that if India selects fighter aircraft Gripen, made by Saab Group, for its $10-billion single-engine fighter jet programme, it will prove to be a turning point in the strategic partnership between the countries.

“Make in India, as we understand, is a strategic approach. If India decides to select Gripen for the Make in India programme, it will strengthen the strategic ties between the countries,” Jan Salestrand, State Secretary in the Swedish Ministry of Defence, told BusinessLine in an interview.

He said the Swedish government believes Saab will be able to meet all the requirements of the Indian Air Force that is seeking to replace its archaic Russian jets with the latest ones.

“We are coming to the tender on aircraft deal, and I think we can live up to that. We are trying to understand what is meant by Make in India and how to turn it into a reality. I think we have a good case here,” Salestrand said.

He said he is hopeful the deal will prove to be a “breakthrough” if the Ministry of Defence chooses Gripen over its competitors. He also said there will not be any issue from the US on getting the deal signed if Saab wins the contract from India.

He added that a pact was signed between former US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist on the equipment that are procured from the US to build Gripen.

During the recently concluded Aero India show, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had stated that the tender to procure nearly 200 fighter jets will be floated by the year-end. Apart from Saab, US’ Lockheed Martin is also eyeing the deal with its F-16.

Sweden is also looking to provide the maritime variant of Gripen to the Indian Navy, which is also looking for carrier-based warplanes having twin engines.

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from Indian Defence Update http://ift.tt/2kOKEBC
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