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Sturdy Backbone

Sweden aggressively pitches for Gripen-E sales in India

Dilip Kumar Mekala

Jan Widerstrom Thirty years from now, Gripen fighter jet would still be the backbone of Swedish Air Force, but F-16 can’t claim such a thing for the US Air Force - this is the argument the Swedish delegation has made in its pitch for the Gripen sales in India. Undeterred by the offers from American competitors, the Swedish government and Gripen’s manufacturer, Saab, are extremely confident about their offer. While participating in a seminar organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Indo-Sweden defence and aerospace partnerships, the Swedish delegation has reiterated their offer to make Gripen the backbone of Indian Air Force (IAF) until 2050.

However, this would mean hanging around patiently in the Indian market for a significant period of time with the Gripen campaign, as chances of immediate procurement is very bleak. With the announcement of Rafale from France, the wait just got even longer. “We know that air force in India is busy with some other procurements,” said Jan Widerstorm, country head, Saab India during an interaction with FORCE. But Saab along with the Swedish government is making sure there is constant dialogue with the Indian government on the Gripen programme. “We are very optimistic and we are waiting for process to start,” he emphasised.

Recently, the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin made an offer on F-16 aircraft to the IAF which includes the plan to shift the entire production line of the F-16 from Texas, USA to India. If selected, this would make India the only manufacturer of the F-16 aircraft for worldwide customers.

Gripen-E fighter jet
Gripen-E fighter jet

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