Saab’s Gripen fighter not on Indian shopping list

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Saab’s Gripen fighter is not on India’s multi-billion dollar shopping list for new fighters, the Swedish aerospace and defence firm said.

India plans to award an US$11 billion contract for 126 fighter jets at the end of March 2012.

Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen had been competing with Boeing’s (BA.N) F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, Lockheed’s F-16 and Russia’s MiG-35 for the fighter contract, which would be one of the largest export orders in the history of the defence industry, Reuters reports.
“Today defence and security company Saab AB has received information from the Indian Ministry of Defence that Gripen has not been shortlisted for the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme,” Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe said in a statement.
“We have received this decision and will closely monitor the future process and provide additional information if requested by the Indian Ministry of Defence.”

The Gripen is in service with the Swedish, Czech Republic, Hungarian, South African and Thai air forces.

Meanwhile, India has told Boeing and Lockheed Martin it will not consider their fighter jets for a $11 billion order and is restricting its choice to two European-made planes, a source said on Thursday.

India was only considering France’s Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon, produced by a consortium of European companies for one of the world’s biggest defence deals, a source said, confirming a report in the Hindustan Times newspaper.

Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, along with Russia’s MiG-35 and Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST) JAS-39, did not meet the Indian Air Force’s technical requirements and were disqualified, the paper reported
“That information is correct. The four have been disqualified,” the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said.

The order for 126 air and ground attack fighters has been keenly contested by global defence firms and has seen lobbying from U.S. president Barack Obama, France’s Nicholas Sarkozy and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev.

India’s decision on a final bidder is likely be based not only on technology and price, but also on its desire to diversify from its traditional Russian deals and expand strategic alliances with the United States and Europe.

A New Delhi-based spokeswoman for Lockheed said it was told by U.S. authorities that Washington would respond to the Indian defence ministry’s letter on the competition.

Saab, in a statement from Sweden, said its plane was not shortlisted for the bid. A Boeing spokeswoman did not respond to requests for a comment. Other officials were not immediately available for comment.

The purchase will elevate India’s air power capabilities and allow it to deploy the weaponry near the western and north-eastern frontiers to tackle any threat from Pakistan or China.

New Delhi fears Beijing is trying to strategically encircle it as the two emerging economies compete for resources globally, while Pakistan already has the F-16 fighters in its fleet. India has told Boeing and Lockheed Martin it will not consider their fighter jets for a $11 billion order and is restricting its choice to two European-made planes, a source said on Thursday.

India was only considering France’s Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon, produced by a consortium of European companies for one of the world’s biggest defence deals, a source said, confirming a report in the Hindustan Times newspaper.

Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, along with Russia’s MiG-35 and Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST) JAS-39, did not meet the Indian Air Force’s technical requirements and were disqualified, the paper reported
“That information is correct. The four have been disqualified,” the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said.

The order for 126 air and ground attack fighters has been keenly contested by global defence firms and has seen lobbying from U.S. president Barack Obama, France’s Nicholas Sarkozy and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev.

India’s decision on a final bidder is likely be based not only on technology and price, but also on its desire to diversify from its traditional Russian deals and expand strategic alliances with the United States and Europe.

A New Delhi-based spokeswoman for Lockheed said it was told by U.S. authorities that Washington would respond to the Indian defence ministry’s letter on the competition.

Saab, in a statement from Sweden, said its plane was not shortlisted for the bid. A Boeing spokeswoman did not respond to requests for a comment. Other officials were not immediately available for comment.

The purchase will elevate India’s air power capabilities and allow it to deploy the weaponry near the western and north-eastern frontiers to tackle any threat from Pakistan or China.



New Delhi fears Beijing is trying to strategically encircle it as the two emerging economies compete for resources globally, while Pakistan already has the F-16 fighters in its fleet.