Saab - An Ideal Partner For Defence Production In India

As Saab celebrated its 75 years, it was time to ask Jan Widerström seminal questions on Saab’s partnership with India. We caught up with him after the successful completion of Defexpo India 2012 where the Saab stall was visited by officials from all services.

Q1. How did Defexpo turn out for Saab India?

Defexpo 2012 has been a tremendous success for Saab India and I am extremely happy about it.  A delegation of 80 product managers and business area heads from Saab’s offices at Australia, U.K, Sweden, South Africa and U.S attended the event to interact with buyers, ministries and heads of armed forces.

The Saab stall saw an impressive list of visitors. The stall was visited by the Union Minister of State for Defence, Secretary Defence Production, and high ranking officers from the Army, Navy, Airforce and Coast Guard. Delegations from Vietnam, South Africa, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, Qatar and Ecuador also visited the Saab stall. We have got tremendous feedback from the ministries, stakeholders and our partners. There is recognition that Saab is an ideal partner for defence production in India.

And all of it has been possible because of the hard work put in by the team at Saab India.

Q2. Saab’s first association with India dates back to over three decades, to the first order of the Carl-Gustaf Anti-Tank system. How has Saab’s journey been in India for the last three decades?

Saab’s association with India has been satisfying and fruitful since the day we got the first order of the Carl-Gustaf Anti-Tank system back in 1974.

We opened our offices in India five years back and I have been associated with the India office almost since inception.

India has been a very welcoming market for Saab and today, it is one of our home-markets.

India is a developing market and has a lot of talent. We want to explore Indian talent and work out best possible synergies with India. Setting up of SITC in Hyderabad in October 2011, partnerships with various companies like Mahindra, Wipro, BEL, Hal, etc. have been some of the indicators of Saab’s great journey in India.

We intend to weave many such success stories in India by way of industrial cooperation and transfer-of-technology. And the response received at Defexpo has made our journey in India even more rewarding.

Q3. What are the major programs in India?

Saab has an array of programmes in India spanning across Air, Land, Naval, Civil Security and Commercial Aeronautics -- all of them equally important.

The programmes that are currently in action are the Saab 2000 for the MRMR and MMMA programmes for the Navy and Coastguard, RBS 70 NG for VSHORAD and AUV 62 for the SPURT program.

We are actively pursuing other programs too.

Q4. Are you looking at similar tie-ups with other Indian companies on the lines of the ones you have with Mahindra Satyam and Pipavav?

Of course, we are open to as many partnerships and tie-ups on the lines of the ones we have with Mahindra Satyam and Pipavav. India is now deemed as a home market for Saab. It means long term commitments to investments in India and taking advantage of India’s manufacturing skills and cost structures to the world.

All this can only be attained through teaming agreements or through a joint venture with Indian companies.  We will share technology with these companies, localize production and offer it to both Indian and global customers.

For us, India is more than a market. It is one of Saab’s home bases and, therefore, the focus is not simply on winning bids but on building business in partnership with reliable Indian partners.