New Delhi: Swedish defence major Saab on Tuesday announced its plans to set up a fully-owned production facility in India to manufacture the deadly Carl Gustaf shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon, not only for the Indian Army but also for the rest of the world.
This will be the first production facility of the weapon system, the mainstay of global armies including that of India, outside of Sweden.
This is also the first time when a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) has announced its plans to open a fully-owned production facility in India for global customers.
As per the existing policy, any foreign OEM can set up a production facility with 74 percent stake through the automatic route.
It can be increased to 100 percent by the Indian government, depending on the technology the foreign OEM would bring in.
Saab plans to manufacture here the latest version of the Carl Gustaf — already ordered by the Army — and is in the process of registering its new company, Saab FFV India.
The company will now go through a process of approvals by the Foreign Investment Board and the Defence Ministry.
Though an anti-tank weapon system, Carl Gustaf was used in the 2016 surgical strikes and has also been used in Kashmir, besides being heavily deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
The Carl Gustaf system has been in service with India since its introduction in 1976. With a wide variety of ammunition, Carl Gustaf has established itself as the main shoulder-launched weapon in the Indian armed forces.
With a range of 1500 metres, depending on the ammunition used, the weapon can be used against both armoured vehicles, bunkers and even the infantry.
The ammunition range can destroy structures or vehicles with anti-armour, anti-tank and anti-structure munition, and neutralise infantry in the open with anti-personnel range as it bursts in air, sending down shrapnel.
For additional support on the battlefield, there are illumination rounds to light up tactical areas during night-time operations and instant smoke rounds to act as a tool for blinding and screening targets.
“It is a natural step to set up a production facility for Carl-Gustaf M4 in India given the long and close association we have with the Indian Army as one of the foremost users of the system.
“We are glad to be able to contribute to the Government of India’s goals of developing a world class defence industry and proud to offer the Indian Armed Forces our Carl-Gustaf M4 made in India,” Gorgen Johansson, head of Saab’s business area Dynamics, said addressing the media in Delhi.
Responding to a query by ThePrint, he said the location for setting up the manufacturing facility was not yet selected, but said the company planned to roll out the first M4 version by 2024.
He said the facility would cater to the Indian Army as well as its global customers in 15 countries.
Johansson said the Carl Gustafs manufactured by the Indian arm would be exported back to Sweden and then sent out to customers.
Since the time Saab entered into a partnership with the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board for production in 1976, it has allied with Indian companies to make parts and components for the global market.
The SAAB official said the Swedish company would continue its partnership with Munitions India Limited (MIL) and Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL), both entities born out of the corporatisation of OFB, to manufacture the Carl Gustaf weapon and its ammunition.
While MIL manufactures an array for existing Carl Gustaf ammunition, AWEIL manufactures the Mark 3 version of the weapon system.
Johansson said the new facility would only manufacture the M4 version and the previous generation will be manufactured by AWEIL.
The latest version comes with a specialised ammunition, has picatinny rails for fixing a variety of sights and adjusting grips as per the height of the soldier besides being lighter by 30 percent due to the use of titanium linings rather than steel.
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