Saab keeps watch on Indian fighter contest

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Saab has not given up hope of winning the Indian air force's medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contest, despite having failed to make the service's shortlist when it narrowed the field to two European models early last month.

"We were not selected - at least not yet," said Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe. Attributing New Delhi's "rather surprising decision" to concerns over the developmental status of his company's Gripen NG, he said "what we can do is give them our explanation if we feel they have misjudged something".

Speaking in London in late May, Buskhe said: "We have a list of things that they have some questions about, and we have been looking at those."

India narrowed its MMRCA contest to the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon, effectively eliminating the Gripen NG, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-16 and RSK MiG-35 from the $10 billion-plus, 126-aircraft deal.

But with extended bids from the remaining contenders valid only until late December, Saab has decided to maintain a presence in support of the campaign in India. "We will wait and see," said Buskhe.

The Saab official also was part of a business delegation that accompanied Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to Brazil last month. "We have a fair chance to make it," Buskhe said, referring to Saab's campaign to offer the Gripen NG to meet the nation's F-X2 fighter requirement.

"We believe we have an extremely strong offer, with the transfer of technology and co-operation with Brazilian industry." The company again faces competition from the Rafale and Super Hornet, with a decision now expected during 2012.