HELSINKI – Saab reinforced the value of its industrial-partnership offerings in hopes of landing more international sales of the JAS Gripen-E.

The structure of investment packages will comprise “local” production guarantees in client countries as standard.

In support of this strategy, and a more ambitious globalized export push, Saab will also strengthen its sales and marketing presence in South America, Europe and Asia. The Gripen-E export project will also be more closely integrated in to the Swedish government’s military trade protocols and programs infrastructure.

Saab is projecting potential long-term unit sales for the JAS Gripen of between 400 to 450 jets, including all variants, over the next 15 years. This forecast, which may prove conservative, is a twofold increase on the company’s original export sales estimate.

Local production guarantees on the Gripen-E, coupled with generous technology transfer arrangements, will form the backbone of Saab’s future packaged industrial-investment offers to prospective clients going forward.

“Much of our success is built on strategic partnerships. Our partners, whether they are in Brazil or India, want to benefit from part of the business. They want to have the fighter aircraft they order built in their own country,” said Jonas Hjelm, the Head of Saab’s Business Area Aeronautics.

Flight test activities continue on the under-development Gripen-E. Saab plans to deliver the first Gripen-E aircraft to Brazil and Sweden in 2019, Hjelm said.

The employment by Saab of “super-charged” industrial-backed bids is both “tactical and necessary” to achieve the group’s ambitious export targets, said Karl Neuer, a Brussels-based industry analyst.

“Saab’s competitors are generally larger defense groups with strong political connections and a wider international influence. Striking a deal with Sweden doesn’t carry the same long-term trade-political value for many countries as buying from the United States or a European manufacturer,” Neuer said.

Swedish state support to drive development and sales around the Gripen-E, Neuer said, is fundamental for the aircrafts’ export success.

“If you look closely at the content, terms and structure of a typical Saab offer it includes a wide range of guarantees covering long-term investment, local production, technology sharing and developing job creating collaborative industrial partnerships with client nations. This strategy of forming industrial partnerships with state and private companies is robustly supported by the Swedish government,” said Neuer.

Saab is pushing hard to raise its profile in Europe, Asia and South America, the group’s three most promising market areas. Strategic industrial partnerships are to the forefront of this drive.

The Swedish defense corporation, in a move to bolster its presence in India, has established an aerospace and defense collaboration with Adani Group. The industrial partnership is directly linked to the Make in India initiative.

Saab is hoping that industrial cooperation with Adani will lead to contracts to design, develop and produce a customized Gripen-E fighter for the Indian Air Force. The Saab-Adani agreement also opens the door for potential joint ventures within the scope of advanced technology products and systems across a broad range of defense hardware and software.

“Our plans in India are to create a new defense eco-system that would involve many partners, vendors and suppliers. To achieve this, we need a strong Indian partner who can help create the framework for the infrastructure and eco-system to fall in to place,” said Buskhe.

Saab’s industrial-cooperation strategy in India is specifically tailored to meet the Asian country’s focus on creating “future-proof and home-grown capabilities across all industries”, Buskhe said.

Central to the objectives of the Adani collaboration, Saab plans to offer the Gripen-E to India’s single-engine fighter aircraft program.

Saab is using a similar industrial-partnership blueprint to grow its business, investment and sales to Indonesia. The group has extended an existing partnership arrangement with Indonesia’s National Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology and the IndonesianDefense University.

More internationally, Saab is hoping to gain traction for its Gripen Aggressor, a variant of its Gripen-C fighter aircraft. Saab’s primary initial target is the USAF’s adversary air (ADAIR) contract.

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Furthermore, Saab’s profile in the United States has been raised by its partnership with Boeing. The two companies will cooperate on a joint bid to supply the USAF with an advanced trainer aircraft. A successful bid would see Saab establish manufacturing and production facilities and capacity in the United States for the T-X advanced trainer aircraft.