The future is bright for Saab

Håkan Buskhe, Saab CEO, responds in Dagens Industri on April 4, 2014 to the previous debate article regarding statements about fall in global fighter market and that this could affect Saab. See the reply from Håkan Buskhe below.

People choose how to look at the world differently. For me, Sweden is one of the most competitive nations in the world. We are ranked top in terms of innovation. Creativity combined with technical expertise has brought success throughout the world. If we work hard, and maintain our competitiveness and efficiency, Sweden has a bright future. I therefore do not agree with Robert Dalsjö's largely bleak picture of Sweden (31/3/14).

Those wishing to understand the complex picture of the fighter aircraft market must not ignore how the geopolitical landscape has changed and how developments in the defence industry reflect this. Anyone who does so will draw the wrong conclusions. During the Cold War, the defence industry guaranteed self-sufficiency in terms of military equipment. When the global situation changed and threats became more complicated, greater international cooperation was needed. Throughout our history – both Sweden's and Saab's – cooperation with other countries has been key. At the start of Saab's story, for example, Italian mechanics came to Sweden, bringing expertise with them. In the same way, highly-qualified Swedish aeronautical engineers are now supporting the aviation industries in other countries. The products and systems as well as the knowledge and expertise we possess are attractive to other countries.

A correct analysis also draws attention to the fact that at the end of the Cold War, a strategy was established for increased export as a means of strengthening Sweden's defence capability and the Swedish defence industry. This started back in the 1970s, when development of Gripen first began. The results are clear. From having exported just a few percent 25 years ago, today more than 60 percent of our products are exported. In some years the figure has been above 70 percent. We are a genuine global company, but we are also a local one. While many of our products are exported, approximately 11,500 employees are in Sweden along with 90 percent of our R&D expenditure of SEK 6bn.

Saab develops products for the national defence capability while everything we do can be exported. Our strength comes from the fact that we stand on both legs simultaneously. Our level of innovation is a crucial aspect of this. Strong exports are a key element of our domestic defence capability. Sweden's defence industry is a geopolitical and foreign policy tool in key international relations.

We have already exported 66 Gripen aircraft, making Gripen one of the top export products in terms of value per unit. 2013 was a unique year with the political decisions taken in Switzerland and Brazil. If the Swiss people say yes to Gripen in May's referendum, and once the contract negotiations in Brazil are completed, at least 58 more Gripen aircraft will be exported.

Misconceptions are sometimes expressed that all Gripen production will move abroad. But Gripen, as with all other products, is produced wherever it is smartest and most cost effective to do so. Some parts are built in Sweden, some in South Africa, and others in Switzerland, Brazil, the UK or other countries. Saab is much more modern in its behaviour than most other defence industries and is more like companies within other industries. The debate over the defence industry often reveals a lack of knowledge about these circumstances. With regard to Brazil, a broad industrial cooperation is a key element and jobs will be created in both countries. Saab and Embraer will be working closely together and boost each other's levels of expertise. This will also provide additional marketing opportunities for Gripen.

When Dalsjö suggests that the market is somehow saturated, he underestimates the market. The interest in Gripen – especially in new markets – has never been greater. The prospects are good for more Gripen deals in the coming decades. It is also clear that the level of interest in Saab as a company has never been greater. Saab and Gripen command respect in the world market, and are recognised for delivery precision, quality and price.

Things are going well for Saab and Gripen thanks to Swedish innovation, quality and cost-effectiveness. The future is bright for Sweden's fighter jet industry.

Håkan Buskhe
President and CEO, Saab AB

Saab Press Centre,
+46 734 180 018

Saab serves the global market with world-leading products, services and solutions ranging from military defence to civil security. Saab has operations and employees on all continents and constantly develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs.




The following files are available for download