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Saab pitches for joint development of Sea Gripen fighter jets

The Gripen multi-role fighters. A Saab photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): Swedish defence major Saab has offered to collaborate with India to develop the sea version of its fighter aircraft Gripen with transfer of technology.

"We have a great opportunity for technology transfer," Ulf Nilsson, head of Saab's aeronautics division said as he spoke about the naval version of the Gripen and the ongoing project of the DRDO to develop the naval version of the LCA Tejas.

Asked who will pay for the cost of the development, he said, "There is a cost for everything. But you can always talk about different investment schemes. If you see there are other potential can do it jointly with Brazil.

Thailand is also a potential customer for Sea Gripen".

While the Indian Navy supports the naval version of the indigenously developed LCA Tejas, it is concerned about uncertainty over the commitment of the Indian Air Force to the LCA Mk 2 fighters, which have been long delayed and are the basis for the naval LCA.

The IAF has recently announced orders for a total of 120 LCA aircraft, with three modifications to the existing version of Tejas, which are below the LCA Mk2 standard.

Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan had recently said the Navy was committed to the project and will have to see that the version of the LCA Mk2 meets the force's requirements in totality.

The Indian Navy is likely to commission aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, under construction in Cochin, in 2018. However, it is not clear if the naval LCA will be ready by then.

Saab has already done a feasibility study and they say that they have identified all the modifications that need to be done to the Gripen to create a naval version.

However, the biggest drawback for the Saab is that Sweden does not have an aircraft carrier and hence development of even a prototype is a problem.


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