Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence partners with Sweden’s SAAB for naval UAVs


Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence and Aerospace has tied up with SAAB of Sweden to bid for the ship-borne unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programme of the Indian Navy, valued at ₹1,000 crore.

Sources in the know said the tie-up will probably mark the entry of European UAVs into the Indian market, which has hitherto been dominated by the Israelis.

50 UAV order

Seeking to enhance its surveillance capabilities, the Indian Navy had in January announced a global competition for the procurement of 50 ‘ship-borne unmanned aerial vehicles’.

The last date of submission was March 19, after an extension of two weeks. The Group’s decision to partner with SAAB was governed by the requirements outlined by the Indian Navy, another official said.

The company declined to comment on the nuances of the tie-up, such as whether a royalty payout would have to be made to the Swedish firm.

With the opening of the defence sector, foreign arms makers have been courting Indian firms.

To take advantage of the situation, the Anil Ambani Group has been participating in opportunities available in the sector.

Sources said the Group has also received partnership offers from leading global manufacturers, including Israeli firms, for the other UAV programmes.

Growing market

The Indian UAV market is expected to grow to ₹30,000 crore in the next 10 years.

According to the request for information issued by the Navy for this programme, the UAVs should be capable of day and night operations from naval vessels 50 metres or longer, both with and without helicopter decks.

It also asks for specifications relating to range, endurance, payload, launch and recovery systems.

The Anil Ambani Group recently showed keen interest in the Naval Utility Helicopters Programme of the Defence Ministry.

The Group has also announced the acquisition of Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company Ltd to strengthen its footprint in the Defence sector.

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