Building Mutually Beneficial Partnerships With Malaysian Industry

Dan Enstedt, President and CEO, Saab Asia-Pacific, highlights Sweden’s long relationship with Malaysia, and how Saab is an ideal partner for the Malaysian defence industry to keep the nation secure and prosperous.

How can Saab meet the defence requirements of Malaysia?

Saab’s 80 years of experience in the defence industry and our cutting-edge products and solutions make us an ideal partner. Saab works in every domain; in the air, on land, at sea and even under the waves. This is something unique to Saab. There is no other single supplier in the world that can deliver a fighter aircraft, a submarine, an airborne early warning aircraft, a warship, a maritime patrol aircraft, an air defence network… along with all the key technology that underpins them such as missiles, sensors, datalinks, command and control or electronic warfare. Saab has a unique ability to manufacture and integrate complex systems at every level. This is what allows us to really understand and meet the needs of a major country like Malaysia.

Saab and Malaysia’s relationship goes back to the 1970s, when Malaysia acquired the Carl-Gustaf system. Later, in the 1990s, our 9LV combat management system was adopted by the Malaysian Navy. Around the same time the Malaysian Army acquired Giraffe surveillance radars, and then the ARTHUR weapons locating radar and, after that, the Malaysian Navy ordered more radars in the late 1990s. Most recently, the Malaysian Air Force has successfully integrated electronic warfare and airborne self-protection systems from Saab. So we have shown that Saab’s advanced defence solutions are highly capable and that Saab can deliver technology transfer to Malaysia.

How does the Gripen fighter meet RMAF requirements?

Gripen is the best option for the RMAF to maintain superior combat effectiveness with high readiness and lower operating costs. Gripen could be the cornerstone of a next generation air force and air defence system for Malaysia, which Saab can help to implement in a way no other competitor can match.

First and foremost, Gripen is the most advanced, most effective combat platform in service anywhere. Gripen is the only operational fighter with the MBDA Meteor missile, to give just one example. Gripen has the full suite of capabilities that Malaysia needs for all air-to-air and air-to-ground taskings but also for operations over water, for sea control and anti-shipping missions, plus reconnaissance, ISTAR and other specialist roles. Gripen can be quickly and easily deployed with minimum support to small airstrips and unprepared bases. It will extend the strategic reach and flexibility of the RMAF overnight.

Perhaps most important of all, Gripen is the ultimate networked fighter. Sweden invented modem datalink technology and this concept has been built into our military operations since the 1960s. The Gripen can be networked with other air, land and naval forces and of course with the national command and control infrastructure. It will operate seamlessly with other assets like the Saab GlobalEye AEW&C or Saab Swordfish MPA. You can see this concept in operation in Thailand where Gripens operate as a team with the Royal Thai Air Force Erieye AEW&C platforms, the Royal Thai Navy and land forces; all in a single national datalink network supplied by Saab, but owned and controlled by Thailand. This is what Gripen means to a country like Malaysia – a leap forward in national capability and sovereignty.

Gripen is a proven aircraft that can help the RMAF deal with a multitude of day-to-day operations such as air policing, border patrol, the security of sea lanes, anti-piracy and counter-smuggling, support of joint operations, area surveillance and maintaining national presence. What makes Gripen unique is its high performance capability at low lifecycle costs. Along with meeting the RMAF’s demanding defence requirements, Saab will of course provide substantial industrial cooperation for local Malaysian companies.

How does Saab plan to increase its presence in Malaysia and the rest of the region?

Saab’s primary focus is on building partnerships with national industry, encouraging cooperation, undertaking transfer of know-how and capacity building to take full advantage of the technology transfer we provide All around us we can see governments and armed forces who want better value for money, better return on investment, who put increasing emphasis on defence solutions that are customised to their requirements, rather than simply products off-the-shelf. This is encouraging the process of indigenisation and localisation, as industrial cooperation programmes are given greater national support. These, in turn, dovetails neatly with the Saab approach to build partnerships in each country and team up with national industry. There is a strong shared trade relationship between Malaysia and Sweden – in telecoms, automobiles, capital goods, electronics, textiles, palm oil and rubber to name just a few. There is every reason to believe that Saab’s overall defence proposition will benefit Malaysia at a broader level. Saab’s approach to partnership, collaboration and cooperation are in harmony with Malaysia’s focus on domestic capability-building through local organisations, and we have a steady track record of success in these ventures.