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Saab to Further Expand Footprint in the Asia Pacific, Will Employ More Locals: Chun-Chau Chew

Arun Sivasankaran - : Feb 24, 2024 - : 1:13 am

Defence major Saab intends to further expand its presence in the Asia Pacific region and will hire more local talent who will act as bridges between customer requirements and the Saab product portfolio, says Chun-Chau Chew, Saab’s Country Head for Singapore.

In an interview, Chew speaks about Saab’s presence in the region, its longstanding cooperation with Singapore, and the market prospects of the GlobalEye AEW aircraft in Asia Pacific.

How much has your Asia Pacific footprint grown in the last decade? What is the company doing to expand its presence in the region?

Saab’s orderbook with regional customers continues to increase. We are engaging with all the countries where we believe we can add value; places where we can do business in the near-term but also implement credible strategies for the longer-term.

Going forward, we will expand our presence and, with the support of our customers, we have ambitions to build even deeper relationships. This will come firstly by employing more locals who will be the bridges between customer requirements and the Saab product portfolio. Next, where it makes sense for the customer, we can establish manufacturing operations as we are doing in India where we are setting a new facility to produce the latest generation of Carl-Gustaf weapons, adding to our existing manufacturing capacity there. In countries like Singapore and South Korea, we can provide local support and training. A third initiative is to increase our business-to-business engagement as collaboration with local industry partners has always been a beneficial option for our customers, partners and for Saab.

What, according to you, are the market prospects of the GlobalEye AEW aircraft in the Asia Pacific region? Have you seen interest in the offering from countries in the area?

GlobalEye remains unique in the market because there is no other system available today or in development can match its multi-domain surveillance capabilities. Only GlobalEye can provide simultaneous long-range detection and identification of objects in the air, at sea and over land. In this respect GlobalEye is transformational and delivers a huge leap in effectiveness over aging and obsolete systems like the E-3 AWACS and others. There are several campaigns underway worldwide and in Asia Saab is promoting GlobalEye to the Republic of Korea to meet its current RFP for additional air surveillance.

Please elaborate on the market demand in the Asia Pacific region for the company’s radar family.
Saab’s radar business in the Asia Pacific region is growing, due in a large part to the performance and high availability of the systems that are already in-service with countries in the region. Some users are taking advantage of the fact that their existing radars can be cost-effectively upgraded. These upgrades provide significantly enhanced functionality and optimise the investments that customers have made in their logistical support, including re-use of spare parts and existing supply chains while minimising the need for additional operator and maintenance training.

In addition to supporting and upgrading radar systems, some existing and potential new customers have emerging requirements that Saab can meet with new products such as the Giraffe 1X radar. This is a very cost-effective and highly capable radar but with a small footprint. The Giraffe1X is joined by other relatively new Saab products such as the Giraffe 4A and enhanced Arthur radars which, over the past 18 months, have also seen greatly increased interest from regional customers.

How important a partner is Singapore for Saab? How long have you had a presence in the country?

Saab’s great cooperation with Singapore started back in the late 1970s when we delivered the first air defence radars to the Singapore Armed Forces. Given the tremendous potential that was already obvious in Singapore, an office was opened in the 1980s to establish a stronger local presence. Today, Singapore is the headquarters of our entire Asia business. For almost 50 years, Saab has contributed to the capability development of the Singapore Armed Forces by delivering a wide range of front-line systems and solutions from surface vessels to submarines, from radars to missile systems. Singapore will continue to be a vital market for Saab moving forward.

Can you talk about the company’s air traffic management solutions for Singapore?

Saab has been delivering air traffic management solutions and supporting the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) for over 15 years. We are proud to have delivered surveillance sensors such as the Multilateration System (MLAT), Surface Movement Radar (SMR), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), and to have integrated these sensors to our Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) to provide routing and guidance that ensures safe and optimised aircraft movement in the very busy Changi Airport. Singapore is embarking on an ambitious programme to transform its aviation sector to meet the rising demands for air travel. With the push for digitalisation and automation, we see great potential to expand our ATM portfolio in the area of digital tower systems and integrated air traffic management suite (i-ATS) solutions, both in the civil and military domains in Singapore.

What are some of the other major programs in Singapore that the company is currently involved in?

Saab has a strong base of installed systems in Singapore for nearly 50 years. We will certainly continue to focus on our established domains such as the naval, underwater, surface sensors and air traffic management. Leveraging the strong presence, we have built over the past decades and our unique wide product offerings, we have an ambitious plan to expand our portfolio in Singapore and venture into new growth areas such as ground combat solutions and public safety.

In March last year, DSTA and Saab signed a contract to co-develop and design the Republic of Singapore Navy’s new Multi-Role Combat Vessel (MRCV). Is the partnership limited to the project or is it more comprehensive? Has work started?

Saab is proud to be part of the ambitious naval programme for the Defence Science Technology Agency (DSTA) and the Republic of Singapore Navy. Under this programme, Saab and DSTA will co-develop the basic design of the Multi-Role Combat Vessel (MRCV). Beyond the MRCV programme, both DSTA and Saab will also jointly implement initiatives, focusing in the area of people development, smart technologies and building long-term supportability in Singapore. Through this collaborative agreement, DSTA engineers will get the opportunity to embark on work attachment in Saab to deepen their technical competencies as well as co-develop new technological areas. The agreement will also see the build-up of in-country capability and local support in some areas.

Can you tell us more about the recent partnership agreement signed between Saab and ST Engineering? What are the objectives, and will the collaboration be limited to the defence sector?

Saab is a firm believer on collaboration and has partnered with the local defence industries for many years. In particular, ST Engineering has been a strong partner for Saab in the areas of naval, underwater, radar and missile technology since our establishment in Singapore. The signing of the MoU is a testament of the trust and long-standing relationship between both companies. Through this collaborative agreement, together we will expand the partnership and explore opportunities in areas of radar integration and support, air defence system integration, unmanned systems, training and simulation and autonomy. The partnership will also see both companies co-creating ‘best of breed’ technological solutions for our customers, both locally and internationally.


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