Partnering a Full Spectrum of Capabilities

“Demands on air operations are constantly changing. Post the world wars and cold war demands for defending our neutrality, Saab has changed its focus towards international cooperation for stability, with interoperability and capacity to manage operations across the entire scale of conflict becoming the key. The requirement for being a responsible leader remains – our solutions were designed to be affordable and this will remain our key driver along with capability”, said Sudhir Varma, Saab India Technologies summarising Saab’s journey in aviation over the last 77 years.

Chalking Saab’s history since 1937, Sudhir recounted:

When Saab, SvenskaAeroplanAktiebolaget, was founded in 1937, its primary aim was to meet the need for a domestic military aircraft industry in Sweden.

With the deliveries of its first aircraft, the light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft B 17, Saab became the dominant supplier to the Swedish Air Force. Saab and the Swedish Air Force have progressed together through various generations of military jet aircraft, introducing world-leading technology every step of the way.

In the late 1940s Saab introduced the J 29 Tunnan fighter, which was followed in the 1950s by Lansen and later by Draken (1960) and Viggen (1971). The first deliveries of Gripen, the first of the fourth generation fighter aircraft to enter service in the Swedish Airforce, began in 1993. In 1999 South Africa signed the first export order for Gripen. Since then the Czech Republic, Hungary and Thailand have also bought Gripen and the UK’s Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) operates Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots throughout the world.

For 77 years, Saab has been challenging the laws of nature and pushing the boundaries of technology – making ideas fly. Today, all this knowledge and experience in aviation is centred within Saab’s business area Aeronautics.

Aeronautics offers advanced airborne systems, related subsystems, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), aerostructures and services to defence customers and commercial aerospace industries worldwide. Aeronautics is also responsible for development, production, marketing, selling and supporting of the Gripen fighter.

On being asked about the driving philosophy for Saab in its aviation products over the years, Sudhir talked about the constantly changing demands on air operations and how it shaped Saab’s focus over the years:

At Saab, we believe a full spectrum of capabilities and a flexible system-of-systems approach are required to meet the challenges of any modern air force. Therefore we are continuously developing and seamlessly upgrading our air operations solutions to support our customers in growing their capabilities. Operational efficiency is dependent on how and to what degree the forces or units involved can synchronise and integrate their different capabilities. Equally important is the ability to sustain operational performance and optimise logistic support to maximize the time in the air.

Saab has a futuristic vision aimed at anticipating tomorrow and it reflects in its products. Saab is a partner in Neuron, the European UCA V technological demonstrator, combining stealth and autonomous capabilities in a full-scale vehicle. In MidCAS, Saab is leading a European consortium to demonstrate a sense & avoid system that will be central to enabling unmanned aerial vehicles to enter regular airspace.

Over the years, Saab has been pushing forward the boundaries of technology and keeping in line with it’s mission, Saab  has 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.

Sudhir Said, “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.”