India and Sweden are set to sign a security agreement when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Stockholm next week, people familiar with the developments said, a move that will facilitate transfer of technology if Swedish defence major Saab is chosen to build fighter jets here.
Modi’s two-day Sweden trip beginning April 16 will mark the first visit by an Indian PM to the Nordic nation in 30 years.
Besides the security pact, an action plan and Document on Partnership for Innovation will be issued after the Stockholm Summit between Modi and his Swedish counterpart, the persons cited earlier said, adding that Sweden is keen to boost its partnership with India to the strategic level.
Last year, Saab had assured it will ensure “full” technology transfer of its Gripen-E fighter jet to India if the company gets the contract to supply a fleet of the combat aircraft to Indian Air Force.
The Gripen-E, an advanced version of the Gripen C/D, is a light, single-engine, multiple fighter aircraft fitted with advanced avionics.
The company also said it will build the world’s most modern aerospace facility in India, besides creating a local supplier base of ancillary systems.
Saab, which has a joint venture with the Adani group, is also interested in manufacturing very-short-range air defence (VSHORAD) missile systems in the country. The procurement process for this has been pending for almost 10 years now.
The Swedish defence major is showcasing its technology at the ongoing DefExpo 2018 in Chennai. The company is focusing on the Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, as it offers a larger market than its home country. Over a period of time, it will make its missiles in India, the persons cited earlier said.
Delhi and Stockholm have been focused on building a strategic partnership. Sweden supported India in its membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and has extended full support to India’s bid for its pending membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Sweden has a long history of investments in India, according to a document of the external affairs ministry. As per October 2017 government data, there are over 170 Swedish joint ventures and wholly-owned subsidiaries in the country. Several large Swedish companies — Ericsson, Swedish Match (WIMCO), SKF and ASEA (later to become ABB) — had entered India even before it won independence.
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