”A Perfect Fit for Countries That Have Limited Resources”
MONCh correspondent Santiago Rivas recently had the opportunity to discuss market prospects and product appeal with Fredrik Gustafson, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Saab in Latin America.
Saab’s penetration of the Latin American market has been growing of late and indications are that this will continue at least in the short term, with a variety of products that fit emerging regional demand. “Saab’s trusted and reliable products are backed by a unique mix of high technology, proven effectiveness and low costs, and we see several opportunities in Latin America. We believe Saab products are a perfect fit for countries that have limited resources and need to take smart investment decisions. Products such as GRIPEN, GlobalEye and the Saab 2000 ERIEYE AEW&C, RBS 70 NG, Saab’s ATM solutions and the 9LV CMS, amongst others, are products that we believe could support the pursuit of safer nations,” explained Gustafson.
The GRIPEN is one of the company’s most interesting products for the region. With regard to the potential market, Gustafson stated that Saab, “would love to see GRIPEN as the fighter of choice on the regional level, as we firmly believe it is a great solution for most Latin American countries given its cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, with the GRIPEN Brazil programme, other Latin American countries would see benefits from a logistics perspective.”
Saab’s collaboration with Boeing in the T-X programme is also a subject of interest for the region, thanks to its comparatively low cost. Gustafson remarked that, “we believe our T-X design, developed together with Boeing, has a market in Latin America, replacing the current trainer aircraft fleet in several countries whose trainer fleet is ageing and reaching its end of life during the next decade.”
Border patrol and airspace control rank high on the list of concerns affecting Latin American armed forces. Asked how does he sees Saab solutions in C4I fulfilling these needs, Gustafson asserted that, “Saab has a broad portfolio of surface-based radars, airborne early warning solutions and scalable C4I systems which we believe are highly relevant in this scenario. Complemented by our COMINT solutions [and] well proven in border surveillance solutions in the region, we think our solutions solves most of the ‘headaches’ in this area.”
Saab already has penetration of the regional air defence market with products such as RBS-70. Currently, negotiations are in progress with the Argentine government for the provision of more systems for the G-20 meeting in November. While declaring that the company does not comment on specific lines of business (such as air defence or counter-UAS), Gustafson nonetheless went on to say, “but yes – the RBS 70 has an excellent record of accomplishments in the market, not least in Latin America. Up until now, 19 countries have acquired more than 1,600 RBS 70 systems, and more than 17,000 missiles. Selling to existing customers is the best marketing there is, and we wish our relationship with current RBS 70 users continues and expands. Our GIRAFFE 1X radar has excellent performance to discover small UAVs, including hovering rotary wing designs. To counter these threats, we have some kinetic weapons like the BOLIDE missile, but are also looking to use our High Frequency capabilities to develop efficient countermeasures with minimum collateral damage.”
Saab, together with Damen, is offering a proposal for the TAMANDARÉ-class programme in Brazil. Highlighting the competitive nature of the proposal, Gustafson stated that, “Saab and Damen, two world-leading companies in the development of naval solutions, are coming together to meet the specific requirements of the Brazilian Navy, and to form part of the Brazilian naval industry base. Sharing our technology and experience by entering into a long-term cooperation with Brazil will further strengthen our relationships between our three countries. It will also connect Brazil to our global naval customer network and supply chains.
“There are the considerations: that the SIGMA-class combatant is a proven and already built abroad in customer countries’ shipyards; that we have the already established and proven relationship between Damen and Wilson Sons; together with Saab’s proven record of accomplishment as a combat management system provider and lead system integrator. Saab has a history of successful partnerships and leading roles in different naval combat system developments.”
Many other Latin American navies will be seeking similar vessels in the near future. Quizzed on the other opportunities he sees, Gustafson responded: “We see similar requirements from several countries in the region and have initiated a dialogue with some of them. Even though each country has its own specific operational, technical and industrial requirements, we believe there are several opportunities for synergies between the different navies should they have similar equipment. Hence, given the previous success for both Damen and Saab, we are very positive in looking forward to these opportunities.”