Partnering and Co-building Technology with India

Sweden and Saab have had a fruitful relationship with India, across various security domains, for many years now. Jan Widerström, Chairman and Managing Director, Saab India Technologies Pvt Ltd, speaks about Saab’s portfolio and partnerships in India and the Make in India programme which has the potential to take the relationship to the next level.

How does Saab plan to be part of the Make-in-India initiative?

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. We want to collaborate with Indian companies in developing technology.  This is in complete synergy with the new Government’s Make in India policy.

We will partner Indian companies either through a teaming agreement or through a joint venture. We will share technology with these companies, localize production and offer it to both Indian and global customers.

We believe that these will deliver large benefits to Saab as much as it will to Indian companies. For one, by bringing our production to India, local adaptation will be easier and faster by being closer to our customers here. Also, we have a lot to gain from India’s strengths in manufacturing. 

Which all Indian companies have you partnered with for R&D, for aerospace technologies, for defence systems?

Saab has had an established presence in India for many years now – in fact, this year we have completed 40 years of our collaboration with the Ordnance Factory Board. We have a joint venture with Aequs in Belgaum, Aerostructures Assemblies India, which is manufacturing assemblies for commercial and defence aircraft. Our Aerostructures division has a very large footprint across India – we work with companies such as Mahindra Aerospace, Tata Advanced Materials, Cim Tools and more.

We have also set up the Saab India Technology Center, which is involved in R&D in collaboration with Tech Mahindra. Engineers at this center are working closely with teams in Sweden on developing the next generation of defence systems.

In 2012, Saab, in collaboration with Elcome Integrated Systems, implemented the National Automatic Identification System on the Indian coast line. The NAIS provides coverage to the entire Indian Coast, whereby 74 lighthouses are now fitted with Saab systems. This system is helping safeguard India’s coastline through monitoring and identification of maritime traffic.

Saab and Reliance Defence are jointly developing the next generation of Combat Management Systems in India. In collaboration with Grintex, we have deployed Advanced Surface Movement Guidance & Control Systems (A-SMGCS) at nine of the eleven busiest airports in India. The Saab A-SMGCS is enhancing situational awareness and runway safety at these airports. We have tied up with Bharat Forge to work together on Air Defence systems for India.

Besides these partnerships, we are in discussion with many more companies. We have a clear vision in India - to be a true and genuine partner to India’s defence industry. For us, India is a home market. The focus is not simply on winning bids, but on building business in partnership with Indian partners across the entire hierarchy of manufacturers, all the way from sub-component suppliers to strategic partners.

What solutions does Saab have to extensively support Armed Forces? In other words, how can your solutions enable a modern fighting force to meet the operational challenges of the 21st century?

The first imperative for land forces in developing a combat strategy is to ensure coherence between battle space, security dynamics and the cost of waging battle. Saab is known for supplying not just advanced military and defence equipment to the world but also ensuring that the costs involved are low.

To celebrate 40 years of being in India, FFV Ordnance is showcasing its new Carl-Gustaf M4, launched in 2014, for the first time at a land defence exhibition in India at Defexpo. The Carl-Gustaf M4 is the latest man-portable, shoulder-launched, multi-purpose weapon system from FFV Ordnance, designed to provide users with flexibility and help troops remain agile in any scenario.

Saab Barracuda has had a significant presence in India over the years and has, through its Indian subsidiary Barracuda Camouflage located in Gurgaon, equipped missile batteries with Saab Barracuda camouflage nets, which reduce an object’s signature across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and mobile camouflage systems, for many years. Besides these, we have a wide range of cutting-edge Air Defence systems.

What all does your air defence portfolio cover?

Saab’s new accurate, reliable and flexible RBS 70 NG Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) system is a missile system with 24/7 all-target capability, developed for any combat situation. The new generation has an integrated sight, enhanced gunner aids, high precision, unbeatable range and unjammable laser guidance that combine to produce a ground-based air defence system with world-leading capabilities. The BAMSE SRSAM system is one of few systems in the world today that is developed and optimized as a dedicated Ground-Based Air Defence missile system. It is an all-weather operational, Automatic Command-to-Line-of-Sight missile system, and one of its key strengths is its unjammable missile guidance. It is designed for flexible usage, both for stand-alone operation as well as in a network with other sensors and weapon systems.

Can you tell us more about the IDAS System?

Saab’s Integrated Defence Aids Suite (IDAS) system, selected as the Electronic Warfare self-protection system for the Indian Army’s and Air force’s Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv), is an Electronic Warfare system designed to provide self-protection for airborne platforms in sophisticated, diverse and dense threat environments. IDAS is a fully integrated multi-spectral system that can be configured for radar warning, laser-warning, and missile-approach-warning. Even though IDAS has been designed as an integrated system from the onset, its modular system architecture allows the system to be configured in any combination of the three sensor-system types as user requirements may dictate. Saab’s new advanced lightweight Counter Measure Dispensing System (CMDS) is fully integrated with IDAS. The dispensers are controlled via a fully integrated chaff-and-flare dispenser controller that resides in the EWC. This allows for automatic dispensing under the control of the EWC upon threat-identification. The system can handle mixed payloads per dispenser, i.e. chaff and flares mixed in each dispenser.

Saab has a long term business agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the supply of IDAS and will include transfer of technology of the system. The program is now in the series production phase and has received multiple production orders in the past years, with an ambition for more business during 2016.