Thursday, June 11, 2015

India Sweden Renew Ties

 India Sweden Renew Ties  ! On the path to co-develop highly capable fighter jets. 


   In the process of delivering its promise of a resurgent India the NDA government has taken a stand to boost its bilateral ties with countries which will be a boost to its economy and infrastructure. Several high level visits have been made by Indian delegates to boost the ties and develop the country mainly through co-developing advanced technologies. The latest in the list to have shown interest is Sweden, over the course of a month the country has exchanged warm ties. 

    The honorable President of Republic of India Pranab Mukharjee visited Sweden last week signaling India’s newer approach to the country. The diplomatic ties between the countries were in troubled waters when Sweden raised its objection to extraditing Sweden nationals in the Puralia drop case. 

The President during his visit signed several MOU which will boost the ties between the counties in the field of education, bilateral trade, economics, infrastructure and defense. Sweden extending its support to India by sending its Defense minister Peter Hultqvist who has concluded several important deals after meeting his counterpart Manohar Parrikar. 

   The military ties between the countries dates back to the era when India acquired the Bofor guns. The deal even though then proved to be a major boost to the army returned to haunt the armed forces with several scandals emerging.

Sweden and Indian companies have been in agreement to supply India with state-of-the art sensor suites. Sweden’s SAAB has been a forerunner in the lucrative Indian defense market. SAAB had fielded its Gripen NG for the ambitious MMRCA deal but lost out in the initial phase of testing. SAAB has also participated in the MANPAD tender for which a winner is yet to be announced by the Ministry of Defence, India.

    The visiting Defense Minister of Sweden has confirmed that India was offered the Gripen as a replacement for the aging MiG-21 fleet. The home grown Tejas project has evolved overtime and will soon be materialized. The Tejas team is in a race to acquire FOC certificates and once done the jet may soon operate from FOB’s of IAF. 


  But with the active fighter squadron dipping at an alarming rate the operational capability of IAF has suffered greatly. Realizing this NDA government went for a G-G deal with the Dassault to supply 36 Rafale to India. Sweden is wishing the same agreement can be reflected in regard to their SAAB developed Gripen NG.

India is strongly stressing for strengthening the prospective India defense industry, ‘Make in India’ has been key feature for setting up a dynamic platform for the interested foreign firms. The government has also cleared the FDI for defense to be increased from 26% to 49% and has also made the procurement process more flexible. 

    Aerospace development has been a field Indian firms have failed to master, SAAB has shown interest to work with India to jointly develop a more lethal LCA platform. If conceived the nations can be working at making the under development Tejas MKII more lethal. IAF has for long been pitching for a more capable Tejas variant, even though the Tejas MK-I is one of the most advanced jets in India lacks in several key fields. IAF has really not been impressed by the performance but still believes is the best platform given its budgetary issues.

    With the Indian firms failing to master the technological hurdles faced in the designing of fighter jets any assistance is a welcome move. America has already entered into an agreement with India to help it improve an advanced jet. America will also be assisting India in developing the hot engines.

    The home grown Kaveri program failed to provide a reliable engine to the LCA program. The LCA program is now powered by the GE supplied F-404 engines. Several key technologies for the Tejas MK-II are to be finalized, America has already shown its interest in helping India develop the GE F-414. SAAB may also help India overcome these hurdles by providing advanced technologies which will enable India develop a more lethal aircraft.

     Notably the visiting Defense Minister also toured HAL’s primer facility in Bangalore. HAL, Bangalore is the hot bed for any developmental activities in the Tejas and other jet programs. During the visit the minister was given a glimpse of the home grown attack helicopters, 

    ALH Rudra and LCH, the defense system of these helicopters are designed by SAAB. With the minister touring the homeland of Tejas a deal for co-development is most likely but with SAAB strongly suffering in attracting foreign costumers for the Gripen it has to be seen how the program will evolve in the future. 

Editor - Karthik Kakoor

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