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Saab announces plans to open next-generation fighter jet plant near Purdue University

Global defense and security company Saab announced plans Wednesday to locate a new U.S. manufacturing operation in Discovery Park District Aerospace

Posted: May. 8, 2019 10:30 AM
Updated: May. 8, 2019 6:09 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Global defense and security company Saab announced plans Wednesday to locate a new U.S. manufacturing operation in Discovery Park District Aerospace on the west side of the Purdue University campus. The new location will support the production of the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation T-X jet trainer and create up to 300 new jobs, with hiring starting in 2020.


The initial focus for the West Lafayette, Indiana site will be aeronautical engineering; producing major structural sections and final assembly of the Saab parts of the T-X advanced jet trainer, developed by Boeing and Saab for the United States Air Force

According to a Purdue press release, the expansion is a fundamental part of the company’s strategy to grow its U.S. industrial and technology base. Saab also will collaborate with Purdue University to expand Saab’s U.S.-based research and development within possible areas such as sensor systems, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

"This is a proud and patriotic day for every Hoosier and every Swede," said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.

Governor Holcomb and Purdue President Mitch Daniels welcomed the Swedish company to the Hoosier state. Governor Holcomb said in his speech that it's about the best working with the best.

"You don't get a day more special than today," he said. "The only day that will be more special than today will be everyday hereafter as we continue to grow together with the best."

This addition of Saab to the state is a big move forward for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, an organization first started by then Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005. Daniels said in his speech that he is proud of how his second successor has driven economic development in Indiana.

“Indiana has long been a national leader in manufacturing, and today’s announcement demonstrates how the Hoosier state continues playing a key role in propelling the industry forward by attracting investment from around the globe,” said Governor Holcomb. “Saab’s decision to fuel its United States growth in West Lafayette is a testament to the state’s pro-growth business climate, strong aviation and defense sectors, and commitment to fostering innovation by collaborating with our renowned universities and businesses to solve 21st-century challenges.”

"Saab is in West Lafayette to stay and we look forward to being a part of this integrated ecosystem," said Hakan Buskhe, President and CEO of Saab.

The Stockholm-based company will invest $37 million to locate and build an Indiana-based workforce in West Lafayette. Buskhe said they liked what they saw when they came to Indiana.

"It felt a little bit like home here when we were visiting," he said. "The ecosystem with the university and also the willingness from the governor and the state to push business, that was the tipping point for us to choose West Lafayette."

The facility will do the final assembly of the T-X advanced jet trainer, which is a plane developed by Boeing and Saab for the United States Air Force. Buskhe said it's imperative that they get production up and running by the end of 2020. 

President Daniels hopes it will continue to bring the best and brightest to Purdue.

“Purdue’s strong history in aircraft research and development makes Saab’s choice a natural fit,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “But the even tighter fit is with our Discovery Park District concept. Saab’s investment will bring more cutting-edge research partnerships for our faculty, more high-value employment and internship opportunities for our graduates, and more jobs and economic vitality for our neighbors.”

He added later, "We are building a climate here that is irresistibly attractive to the best scholars, best students and future Saabs."

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