Swedish defence company Saab has announced its decision to set up a production facility in India for its Carl-Gustaf M4 shoulder-fired weapon system. The M4 is one of the world’s most popular pieces of military equipment utilised primarily by the Special Forces (SF).
The Carl-Gustaf M4 shoulder-fired weapon system can fire anti-armour and illuminating rounds as well as various other types of ammunition, with the maximum range being 1,500 metres.
Neither Saab nor the GOI has stated the location of the production facility but it is supposed to go into operation in 2024. For this venture – Saab FFV India will be established as a new company to make these rocket launchers for the Indian military as well as parts of other weapons platforms for foreign states.
Carl-Gustaf was first inducted into the Indian Army in 1976, with the previous M2 and M3 models already being license-produced under the Indian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Ordinance Factory Board (OFB). This is a great step in terms of defence indigenisation as it has strengthened the Indian Army-Saab relationship and will aid Indian defence development and indigenisation. This is for the first time that Swedish defence maker has ventured beyond Sweden to establish its M4 weapon system. Currently, India follows a 74% foreign direct investment (FDI) model in its defence sector and only 100% FDI on a case-by-case basis. Saab is seeking the 100% FDI route but if unsuccessful, it will accept 74% FDI.
In recent years, the MoD has announced positive and negative indigenisation lists. The positive list includes military equipment that India will produce by itself, while the negative list has those weapons platforms that India will not import. Vinod Bhatia, former Director General of Military Operations, told Hindustan Times “We need more original equipment manufacturers to set up manufacturing facilities in India. It will provide a boost to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign.”
Under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme, the MoD has signed more than 180 contracts with the Indian industry between June 2014 and December 2019. The value of these deals is approximately $25.8 billion. The MoD has set a target of achieving a turnover of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in aerospace and defence goods and services including exports of Rs 35,000 crore by 2024.