Sweden Backs Industry for Export Growth in Asia

HELSINKI — Sweden plans to use its new defense collaboration agreement with Indonesia to both drive industry sales and support Saab’s ambition to substantially grow military exports to Asia , and particularly to countries in Southeast Asia. 

The memorandum of understanding with Indonesia covers potential commercial-scale co-production joint ventures between Swedish and Indonesian companies, as well as industrial cooperation extending to technology transfers and joint research and development projects.

Saab is refocusing resources in a determined push to sell more big-ticket defense systems, including fighter and surveillance aircraft, to Asian militaries. Saab’s CEO Håkan Buskhe said the company regards all countries in the Southeast Asian sphere as potential customers.

Buskhe has identified the Philippines , Malaysia and Indonesia as other potential buyers for the next-generation Gripen figher aircraft.

Aiding Saab is the Swedish government’s revitalized policy of connecting interstate trade and defense agreements with defense exports. The agreement with Indonesia , which includes technology transfers and joint research and development, will serve as a model to support and elevate the competitiveness of Swedish defense equipment in Asian markets.

“Asia is becoming an increasingly more important marketplace for Sweden ’s defense companies and exports. Our cooperation agreement with Indonesia is a step forward to deepen defense cooperation between the two countries,” Swedish  Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said.

The defense deepening agreement with Indonesia takes place against a regional backdrop where Saab has opened a new office in the Philippines . The timing of the initiative is significant, as Saab intensifies efforts to sell the JAS-39 Gripen to the Philippine Air Force.

The opening of Saab’s office in the Philippines was preceded by a high-level Swedish trade delegation to Manila headed by Swedish   Enterprise and Innovation Minister Mikael Damberg.

Saab is no stranger to Asian markets. The company supplied 12 Gripen C/D fighters to Thailand in 2008. Saab is hoping to secure a new order over the next 12 months that the company hopes could conclude with a deal to deliver additional aircraft of the Gripen-E type to Thailand.

The Gripen C/D delivery, which included a Saab 340 transport aircraft equipped with the Erieye airborne early warning radar system, was completed in 2013.

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