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Months after it announced a joint venture with the Adani Group, Swedish defence giant Saab has said it plans to partner with a few other Indian entities for manufacturing a broad portfolio of products in view of the improving business climate in India. Mats Palmberg, Vice President of Saab's International Partnerships, said the company was also bringing its global partners to India to expand on its product range. On the Indian Air Force looking to procure over 100 single-engine fighters and the Navy seeking to induct 57 jets for its aircraft carriers, he said it would be beneficial for India if the two acquisitions were combined. The government is set to start the process soon for procuring a fleet of single-engine fighters for the IAF and had last year invited proposals from global fighter jet manufacturers for 57 combat aircraft. "We will cooperate with other companies in India," Palmberg told PTI in an interview. He, however, declined to reveal the names of the companies with whom Saab was looking for collaboration. In September last year, Saab and the Adani Group had announced a collaboration in defence manufacturing entailing billions of dollars of investment and said the joint venture would produce Gripen military jets in India if it won the single-engine aircraft deal. "We are looking at involving other parties, for example, into the Gripen project as well. But it is important to be in the complete ecosystem and you should not put everything into one basket," he said. Palmberg said Saab was looking at producing a broad portfolio of products in India considering the favourable business climate and policy initiatives of the government to promote defence production in the country. He indicated Saab's interests in producing radars, unmanned aerial vehicles and futuristic platforms for the Indian armed forces. "We have to look broadly.
We should use the existing network of companies in India in the best possible way. We are also bringing in our international partners," he said. Palmberg said Saab's association with the Adani Group will continue even if the joint venture fails to bag the deal to produce the single-engine fighter jets for the Indian Air Force. Tony Ogilvy, General Manager Aeronautics and Head of Sea Gripen at Saab, also said it would be beneficial for India if the requirement for IAF and the Navy was combined. "It is definitely going to be beneficial and it will give Indian manufacturing opportunities that really are going to be invaluable," he said, adding if Saab wins the two projects, both the aircraft will be manufactured in India. Saab has offered its Gripen E for the IAF and its Gripen M for the Navy. Ogilvy said Gripen E has already been crafted for IAF but Gripen M needs to be furthered designed in keeping with Indian requirements. Boeing has also offered its F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet to the Indian Navy. Hard selling Gripen M for the Navy, Ogilvy said it will be much better for India than the F/A-18. "It's a question of a longer term requirement. The F/18, I guess, will have some problem in operating from India's aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya," he claimed. Ogilvy said Saab had responded to the Navy's Request for Proposal and was now awaiting a response.