Possible HAL-Saab union give India the edge

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Ministry of Defence, India
Bangalore, Feb 9: India is geared up to become the warehouse of the world in the the next generation electronic warfare equipment in the wake of the high profile AeroSpace Show 2011 that began today (Feb 9) in Bangalore.

The first piece of news that emerged was the Swedish defence company Saab AB announcing its plan to set up a research and development centre in India. Talks are underway by the Swedish company and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) finalizing a joint- venture with HAL in the field of airborne electronic warfare systems.

The R&D wing is expected to be operational soon and will house up to 300 Indian engineers over the next five years working in the area of design, according to Saab's president Hakan Buskhe. The location of the wing is yet to be finalised and could possibly come up in multiple places. Bushke said, "The aim is to transfer already identified concrete programmes (to Indian R&D centre) over time," prior to the Aero Show.

The idea is to "put production and further development in a vehicle (joint venture with HAL) in India where we will produce and deliver to the global market," said company's Director, Head of Region Asia Pacific, Group Marketing & Business Development, Jan Widerstrom.

"Next generation of our electronic warfare systems will be produced and developed in India," he said.

Saab, one of the contenders for the USD 10 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft contract in India, has made a strong pitch for its Gripen IN fighter plane. Sweden's State Defence Secretary Hakan Jevrell said the Swedish government fully backed the company's offer in this regard with full technology transfer. Jevrell said he would like to stress the importance of "zero corruption" (in defence deals).

Asked to elaborate on this statement, Jevrell noted: "Zero corruption is on the table, I believe. Let's be frank. There is a history of the Bofors artillery gun (deal several years ago) surrounded by rumours regarding corruption".

Officials noted that Bofors was a Swedish firm then, but is no longer now. In addition to MMRCA contract, Saab said its pursuing other programmes in India, including anti-ship missile, battle field management system and military and civil surveillance systems.

OneIndia News
(With inputs from PTI)

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