Force Magazine

The Systems We Are Bringing to India Has both Radars and Missiles Designed for Countering the Threat of Small Targets

Marketing director, Saab Technologies, Mats Johansson

Marketing director, Saab Technologies, Mats JohanssonThe Indian defence minister has recently made a statement that defence imports will be the last priority. How do you perceive this and what will be your strategy in this context?
We understand this is an aim for India but our belief is that it also will take some time to achieve this goal. Because what we see here is that there are several global procurements for air defence. And we have also been, quite often, approached by Indian companies for the partnerships for the air defence products and we see that as a natural development for more Indian content. The Indian industry is ready to get different products from different companies to build a combined system where we only contribute with parts as missiles or radars and I think it is good. We can, of course, take part in it.

From the programmes, Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORAD) and Short Range Attack (SRSAM) which we are already competing with in the Indian market, we are planning for offset production running here in India and in the future it also includes upgrades for the system. It’s a step by step approach where we bring in some of our products, start offset production in the next round and then the upgrades as well.

Currently what are your partnerships for the Indian companies for the VSHORAD and SRSAM programmes?
We have several partnerships for these programmes. We have teamed with different companies to do the production in India. I would not want to disclose the names of these companies since all these are part of the offset proposals. But, of course, we are in talks with the defence public sector companies like Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) as they are currently taking care of these programmes.

How is your VSHORAD programme advancing at this point of time?
For the VSHORAD programme, the fully-integrated RBS 70 NG, with day and night firing capabilities, has on-going trials in India. This programme is a combined programme for Indian Army, Air Force and the Navy. Indian Army is, of course, the lead customer in the trials. We have been doing trials in various places - we have been at the coast, in the desert, and we are now at the high altitude.

What are the current timelines for the VSHORAD trials?
The trials will continue until this summer. It’s been more than one year. We have been in the trials since May 2012.

You seem to have generated a lot of interest for the RBS 70NG at the Aero India, particularly from the Indian Air Force. Can you give us a brief account into that?
During Aero India we had visitors from both army and air force and we have seen a wide interest for the RBS 70 NG. I agree that the air force is much interested in this because it is an unjammable system. We are one of the three companies which are in the competition and, of course, we hope to win the contract.

How do you think you are going to emerge in the competition for the VSHORAD programme?
It is hard to say at this stage. I think the important difference with India and some other countries is that the trials here are very long in time. This trial for RBS 70 NG and GIRAFFE will take more than a year with people and equipment from our company in India.

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