The global aerospace and defence company SAAB had organised a unique contest during Aero-India 2011, which had allowed the winning contestant the privilege of co-piloting the Gripen, Sweden’s newest multi-role jet fighter.
Contestants were tested in various aerospace-related issues and had to qualify on a flight simulator. Shashank H R, a 20-year-old engineering student from Bangalore, had won the contest and co-piloted a Gripen captained by SAAB pilot Robin Norlander. At the time, SAAB had been hoping to win India’s multi-billion dollar Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft.
Director of SAAB India, Eddy le da Motte, had touted the contest as a means to win the hearts and minds of the public and the government. “It’s just not our style to fly celebrities; we wanted to fly Indian citizens and sell our fighter to the nation,” he said.
Although India rejected SAAB’s bid in favour of France’s Dassault Rafale fighter, SAAB continues to show interest in the Indian market. This year, the ninth edition of Aero-India, scheduled to take place between February 6 and 10, SAAB has announced its intention to bring a host of products, including the Gripen. “SAAB will participate in full strength at Aero-India 2013 being held at the Yelahanka Air Base, Bangalore,” a company spokesperson said.
The firm is expected to present a series of products covering land, air, naval and civil security system at the air show. “Aero-India 2013 will be marked with a series of interesting opportunities to get to know and engage with SAAB,” the company said.
Among other things, SAAB’s display will include the new man-portable air defence system, the RBS 70 NG VSHORAD, which can be used in all weather conditions. The company has also declared its intention to showcase the Bamse Automatic Command-to-Line-of-Sight missile system, which it claims is one of the few systems in the world that has been developed as a dedicated ground-based air-defence missile system. “With Bamse, you are protected against a wide variety of modern threats, including stealth and small targets,” the company said.
SAAB will also display other innovative weapons system such as the anti-shipping and anti-tank missile systems, besides other non-weapons technology such as Camosphere tents, a mobile camouflage system. Scale models of aircraft (including the Gripen) will also be present, in addition to systems displays and simulators for such things as tank crew training, heads-up displays and situational awareness terminals for naval vessels.