SOURCE: Anand SG / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Thier is no doubt now that American Defence major Lockheed Martin with its F-16 Block-70 is in driver’s seat when it comes to India’s Single-engined fight jets program for a requirement of 114 jets. But does Swedish Saab has an ally in India to become the darkhorse in the race to clinch the deal from Americans?.
While Government of India can be seen totally inclining towards Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block-70, but Indian air force has not shown the same level of inclining and support towards F-16s. IAF in its candid admission has said that if allowed to decide between both F-16 Block-70 and Gripen-E, the force will choose the later for various reasons.
But that is not the way winner will be selected in India even though both the aircrafts will be going through competitive technical trial rounds in India to gauge their performance m final decision most likely will be taken by Government of India and for long, Americans having been eyeing a multi-billion dollar deal from India for their support to Nuclear suppliers exemptions and also for entry into MTCR regime .
India’s Single-engined fight jets program will be more of a political decision rather than a technical one but SAAB does have a friend in Indian air force but it won’t still be easy and we will further, by examining what it will take for Saab to clinch a deal with India.
* Support to India’s AMCA 5th Generation fighter jets program
* Complete Transfer of Technology
* Scope for future growth and upgrades.
* No Political Sting attached with usage of them
* Open to Indian weapons integration
* Unit cost higher than F-16 Block-70
* No Political cloud in Indian Government
* Use of American and European pieces of equipment and components
* Similar to India’s Tejas MK-2
* Poor Indian partner choice
What Saab can do
* Ask for direct one-to-one trial between both the jets
* Force India to have outcome based on Technical trials
* Guarantee Transfer of Technology
* link future upgrade Gripen-E program to Tejas MK2 program
* Make India, Export base for future orders of Gripen-E
* Built pressure in Indian Air force to push government