SAAB Optimistic About MMRCA

As India’s biggest
defence contract of $ 10 billion to acquire 126 (MMRCA) nears final
stages, the lone Swedish contender is optimistic of making it to the
downlist.
  
  Expressing optimism, SAAB executives said
that their India campaign was enthusing them to enter the lucrative
fighter market in the Asian region where many other nations are
planning major acquisitions.

  The Swedish company
executives are hopeful that the Indian Government would shortlist the
competitors by December to bring the number of contenders from six to
two or three.

  The Gripen is in contention with
American F-16 and F-18/A Super Hornets, French Rafale, Russian MiG 35
and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The company executives
claimed that the Gripen had come through well in Indian flight trials
held at Leh and Jaisalmer.

“The trials were a
complete success. We are very happy with the trials that went off early
2010. We are looking forward to the next steps and we are hopeful,”
Eddy de la Motte, Director, Gripen for India, told PTI on the sidelines
of the Africa Aerospace and Defence expo 2010.


Gripen, like other five contenders, had undergone trials at Bangalore,
Leh and Jaisalmer for performance assessment trials over varying
terrain and weather conditions over six months that ended in
March-April this year.

La Motte said the Indian Air
Force pilots, who tested the 1,320 mile-per-hour jet, were a “really
professional team” and the flight evaluation was “very demanding.”


Gripen’s Campaign Director and Test Pilot Magnus Lewis-Olsson said SAAB
was looking forward to winning the Indian contract as it would mean a
lot for the company.

“If you win India, that would be a strong signal for the world,” he said.


The Gripen fighter aircraft, which is in service in the Swedish and
South African Air Force, flew for 12 to 15 hours for eight days and
also did single sorties during the trials.

Under
the MMRCA deal, India will acquire 126 aircraft in 86 single-seater and
40 twin-engine seat configurations. It plans to procure 18 aircraft in
flyaway conditions and produce 106 locally under license through
technology transfer.