In what could be a big boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative, Swedish aerospace and defence major Saab announced tying up with Gautam Aadani-led Adani Group to bid for manufacturing single engine fighter aircraft in India.
"We are keen to play an instrumental role in making India a place for high-class defence manufacturing. This is in line with PM Modi's Make in India vision. Gripen will be offered to the Indian government under the strategic partnership model," Gautam Adani, Chairman of Adani Group said today.
The partnership will compete with U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin in a two horse-race to win a potential order from India's military for single-engine jets that will be produced locally under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make-in-India" initiative.
The Saab-Adani partnership would be aimed at producing planes under India's new 'strategic partnership' policy, said Ratan Shrivastava, an independent New-Delhi-based consultant and adviser at India's industry lobby group FICCI.
The partnership will likely be announced on Friday, Shrivastava said.
Saab declined to comment. Saab President and Chief Executive Hakan Buskhe will host a media event in New Delhi on Friday, Saab said in a press invitation issued on Wednesday. It did not give details.
There was no immediate comment from Adani, which is a $12 billion group with businesses ranging from energy and logistics to real estate and defence.
Shares in Adani Enterprises Ltd, a group company, rose on Thursday after the news of the planned Saab tie-up and were trading about 2.7 percent higher. Saab shares were up 1.8 percent.
Under India's new defence partnership policy, a foreign aircraft maker will collaborate with an Indian firm to develop a world-class indigenous aeronautical base that India has struggled to build for decades.
Lockheed has already picked India's Tata Advanced Systems as its local partner to produce its F-16 fighter planes that will compete with Saab's Gripen aircraft.
The government will issue a formal request to Lockheed and Saab over the next few days to provide information about their plans to design, develop and produce combat jets in India, a government official told Reuters earlier this week.
India's air force needs hundreds of aircraft to replace its Soviet-era fleet, but Modi wants the planes built in India to help boost the domestic industrial base and cut imports.
With Reuters inputs