Sweden`s Saab will tie up with India`s Adani Group to bid for a contract to make fighter aircraft in India, an aerospace consultant aware of the proposed partnership told Reuters on Thursday.
The partnership will compete with U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin in a two horse-race to equip the Indian military with single-engine jets to be produced locally under Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s "Make-in-India" initiative.
The Saab-Adani partnership would be aimed at producing planes under India`s new "strategic partnership" policy, said Ratan Shrivastava, an independent New-Delhi-based consultant and adviser at India`s industry lobby group FICCI.
The partnership will likely be announced on Friday, Shrivastava said.
Saab declined to comment. Saab President and Chief Executive Hakan Buskhe will host a media event in New Delhi on Friday, Saab said in a press invitation issued on Wednesday. It did not give details.
There was no immediate comment from Adani, which is a $12 billion group with businesses ranging from energy and logistics to real estate and defence.
Shares in Adani Enterprises Ltd, a group company, rose on Thursday after the news of the planned Saab tie-up and were trading about 2.7 percent higher. Saab shares were up 1.8 percent.
Under India`s new defence partnership policy, a foreign aircraft maker will collaborate with an Indian firm to develop a world-class indigenous aeronautical base that India has struggled to build for decades.
Lockheed has already picked India`s Tata Advanced Systems as its local partner to produce its F-16 fighter planes that will compete with Saab`s Gripen aircraft.
The government will issue a formal request to Lockheed and Saab over the next few days to provide information about their plans to design, develop and produce combat jets in India, a government official told Reuters earlier this week.
India`s air force needs hundreds of aircraft to replace its Soviet-era fleet, but Modi wants the planes built in India to help boost the domestic industrial base and cut imports.
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