SAAB Optimistic About MMRCA

As India's biggestdefence contract of $ 10 billion to acquire 126 (MMRCA) nears finalstages, the lone Swedish contender is optimistic of making it to thedownlist.

  Expressing optimism, SAAB executives saidthat their India campaign was enthusing them to enter the lucrativefighter market in the Asian region where many other nations areplanning major acquisitions.

  The Swedish companyexecutives are hopeful that the Indian Government would shortlist thecompetitors by December to bring the number of contenders from six totwo or three.
  The Gripen is in contention withAmerican F-16 and F-18/A Super Hornets, French Rafale, Russian MiG 35and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The company executivesclaimed that the Gripen had come through well in Indian flight trialsheld at Leh and Jaisalmer.

"The trials were acomplete success. We are very happy with the trials that went off early2010. We are looking forward to the next steps and we are hopeful,"Eddy de la Motte, Director, Gripen for India, told PTI on the sidelinesof the Africa Aerospace and Defence expo 2010.

Gripen, like other five contenders, had undergone trials at Bangalore,Leh and Jaisalmer for performance assessment trials over varyingterrain and weather conditions over six months that ended inMarch-April this year.

La Motte said the Indian AirForce pilots, who tested the 1,320 mile-per-hour jet, were a "reallyprofessional team" and the flight evaluation was "very demanding."

Gripen's Campaign Director and Test Pilot Magnus Lewis-Olsson said SAABwas looking forward to winning the Indian contract as it would mean alot for the company.

"If you win India, that would be a strong signal for the world," he said.

The Gripen fighter aircraft, which is in service in the Swedish andSouth African Air Force, flew for 12 to 15 hours for eight days andalso did single sorties during the trials.

Underthe MMRCA deal, India will acquire 126 aircraft in 86 single-seater and40 twin-engine seat configurations. It plans to procure 18 aircraft inflyaway conditions and produce 106 locally under license throughtechnology transfer.

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