Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA Nov-Dec 2016 Contents attack helicopter over the last few years, as well as
the P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.
India is keeping its options open despite the
U.S' best efforts. In June, India's Air Chief Marshal
Arup Raha visited Saab's Linköping production
plant in Sweden and flew a Gripen only weeks
after the company introduced the Gripen E, its first
test aircraft of the next generation Gripen.
Saab has set out a comprehensive plan within
the Make in India initiative, which will include
transfer of state-of-the-art technology; setting
up an aerospace eco-system in India including a
manufacturing facility; creation of a local supplier
base; employment of an Indian workforce well-
trained in engineering and manufacturing.
"Our concept of technology transfer is real as
we are willing to give India comprehensive system
and software control. In short, Saab is not only
looking at setting up a base here, but also helping
in the development of aerospace capability for
many years to come," Jan Widerström, Chairman,
Saab India Technologies Pvt Ltd said in June.
Besides offering to set up a manufacturing base
in India, Saab wants to help develop the country's
aerospace and defence capabilities for the next
century. It has offered to partner with India's
state-run Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA)
to help advance the Advanced Medium Combat
Aircraft (AMCA) currently in development phase.
Saab is also offering the agency assistance to
develop the next version of Light Combat Aircraft
(LCA) Tejas to be inducted into the Indian Navy
and also resolve existing technical problems with
the Tejas MK I, which is powered by the F404-GE-
IN20 engines, similar to the JAS-39 aircraft.
"The Gripen has been designed to have a life
cycle cost that is the lowest in the world. Our view
of Make in India is more than just about making;
we plan to maintain in India. We can upgrade the
Gripen every few years so that the Air Force has
the latest technology," Widerström added.
Russia has also offered the IAF the SU-35S,
the latest multifunctional fifth generation fighter,
derived from Su-27/Su-30 fighters as well as the
Su-30MKI at a lower cost.
According to the Rostec website, the new
fighter meets all the benchmark requirements for
a Fifth-Generation fighter jet, except for stealth
technology and APAR (active phased array radar),
also known as AESA (active electronically scanned
array). It is powered by the new fifth-generation
high-thrust engine developed by NPO Saturn, a
UEC subsidiary, and known as 117S. The Sukhoi
Su-35S carries a conceptually new airborne
electronics system: the Irbis phased-array radar
control system, which is capable of detecting and
tracking simultaneously up to four ground targets
or up to 30 aerial targets, as well as engaging up
to 8 airborne targets at the same time.
Stoking the rivalry, Defense Minister Manohar
Parrikar has publicly supported procuring or even
The IAF, which describes the Su-30 MKI as its
"air dominance fighter", operates 242 Sukhois as
of January 2016 with another 72 jets on order. The
follow-on order will now allow India to maintain
its bases in the northeast and western parts of
the country as well as those along the Pakistan
border. Shortages in the IAF fighter aircraft
numbers had previously restricted the aircraft to
the Pakistan and China fronts.
Russia has an added advantage over the
rest and that is the BrahMos missile. Hindustan
Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is currently performing
structural modifications on Sukhois to allow the
aircraft to carry the air version of the supersonic
In June, HAL successfully demonstrated the
Su-30- BrahMos making the IAF the only Air
Force in the world in possession of a supersonic
cruise missile system. About 40 Su-30 aircraft are
expected to be modified.
State-run HAL, as a license producer, has built
over 140 Su-30 MKI aircraft and become the
only corporation to have mastered, with Russian
assistance, MKI overhaul.
In October, IAF Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha
confirmed to local press that the MoD was
reviewing the "unsolicited offers" and that "the
government of India and the Air Force are thinking
of getting another fighter aircraft production line in
India under manufacturer licence. It will be proper
transfer of technology so that we have good share
of technology and India will become a hub for
manufacturing as well as repair and overhaul."
He added, "Whosoever gives the best deal;
they are all very capable... I think Gripen is
latest in terms of generation. It is a new aircraft
compared to the F-16, but it depends on the
capability and what sort of technology transfer in
terms of depth and quantity and quality, and of
course the price tag, will decided which aircraft
will be manufactured in future under the 'Make
in India' initiative. It is on the table and nothing is
With many options available, it's a case of 'wait
and watch' as the Indian Ministry of Defense moves
forward with further fighter aircraft acquisitions.
18 DefenceReviewAsia | NOV-DEC 2016
An F-22 Raptor, Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 and French air force Rafale fly in formation as part of a trilateral exercise
held at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Dec. 7, 2015. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kayla Newman
Besides offering to set up a manufacturing base in India, Saab wants
help develop the country's aerospace and defense capabilities for the
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