We Are India's Long-Term Partner: Håkan Buskhe

Håkan Buskhe, President and CEO, Saab on opportunities in India, partnerships and strategic relations in the defence domain.

Where do you think Sweden has an edge over long-lasting strategic relations or new ones that India has had in the defence domain?

It is by now evident that the big gap between technology providers and technology importers is the lack of willingness of the former to share technology with the latter. Where earlier such a mindset arose from persistent global conflict, the current technology reservations are mostly based on commercial interest. It is important to understand that Sweden – and Saab – lead the world’s most successful technology transfer and industrial cooperation programs precisely because our interests lie in partnering and co-building technology with our customers.

It is important to understand that we see today’s defence challenges as being common to all nations and being driven by non-state actors more than rogue nations. Sweden believes that peaceful countries must come together to build a common bulwark of technology. You will see, for instance, that large parts of the next generation Gripen are being co-developed and manufactured in Brazil, irrespective of the fate of the programme there. The biggest advantage Sweden has over all other countries is our readiness to share technology. Indeed, we want to collaborate with Indian companies in developing technology.

The key proposition from Sweden has always been the willingness to share and co-develop. As more and more Indian private companies enter the defence domain and make serious investments, I believe that the synergies will be strengthened as they know the pathway to the market and we know the pathway to technology.

Saab has full support of the Swedish government in its efforts to form new international partnerships and export of technology. Saab and Sweden have an established track record of technology transfer, including critical areas.

How about Aerospace? How does Saab see its role in India’s Aerospace industry?

First and foremost, we do believe that India will be the engine for the aerospace industry in the next half a century. Not merely for military aircraft but for virtually every category of aerospace: military and civilian helicopters and aircraft; UAV for military and homeland security purposes and so forth. We are equally convinced that in the decade ahead, India will be propelled to have its own home-grown Boeing and Airbus, Dassault and Eurofighters.

We have made a long term commitment to India’s national security goals by being a partner in developing an indigenous, global scale, self-sustaining aeronautic industry.We fully support India’s ambitions and we are willing to partner and share our own experience of trial and error to expedite the leap frog we expect to see in India on this front.

The speed and success of this major shift will depend on the ability to deal with three major aspects: First, the systems that it develops need to account for top performance in future battlefield. Second, technologies need to be cutting edge, efficient and sustainable, as low life cycle cost and availability are key to India’s aviation ambitions given the sheer scale of requirements.

Third, there needs to be a seamless transition from design and development to manufacturing for any complex aeronautic program to become successful.”

What opportunities is Saab pursuing in India?

We have participated in a number of programs with various arms of the defence forces and are quite pleased with the progress of different programs.

Saab has a wide portfolio of products and we are in dialogue with the armed forces and homeland security forces for a whole range of sophisticated equipment, including camouflage, battle management systems, air defence systems, ground combat systems, advanced surveillance and foliage penetrating radars, naval and coast guard systems, electronic warfare systems, communication equipment and avionics among others.

Saab is currently pursuing many individual opportunities in the requirements of the Indian defence forces.  All of Saab’s Business Areas are active in India offering high-tech solutions and products such as the C4I, EW (Self Protection Systems), Signature Management, Missile & Weapon Systems, Aeronautical Platforms, Sensors (Radars), Maritime Security and Civil Security, LPI Radars and Sea Giraffe.

What are the business partnerships that Saab is pursuing in India?

We have entered into a number of important, strategic partnerships over the past year. We signed anMoU for strategic investment in Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering and a Technical Partnership Agreement (TPA).

The agreements underline our strategy to increase presence in an important and large market and offer business possibilities for several parts of the organisation. The MoU covers an investment by Saab of approximately Rs. 210 Crore through a suitable structure, subject to all necessary approvals.

Earlier, Saab and Pipavav had jointly formed a group called the Combat System Engineering Group or "CSEG" in India. This group analyses the Combat System design and architecture, and works closely with Design group of Pipavav to undertake, modelling and simulation and prepare system integration requirements for naval ships constructed by Pipavav, starting with the NOPV, Naval Offshore Platform Vehicle program.

More such partnerships are in various stages of discussion.

Last year, Saab in collaboration with Elcome Marine Services implemented the National Automatic Identification System (NAIS) on the Indian coast line for India’s Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), which will also be used by Indian Navy, Coast Guard and DG Shipping..

We have also formally inaugurated in the middle of January, a skills training program designed to enhance employability of College Engineers at Institutes hosting DEEP in Gudivada and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. The Saab Diploma Employment Enhancement Program (DEEP) is an employability enhancement and skill development program for Indian College Engineering students designed to bridge the gap between industry’s requirements and the Indian technical education system.

Courtesy: Business Standard