Global defense and security company Saab will establish a new advanced manufacturing and production facility in West Lafayette, IN. Located at the Purdue University-affiliated Discovery Park District Aerospace, the Saab facility will support production of the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation T-X jet trainer and is a fundamental part of the company’s strategy to grow its U.S. industrial and technology base. With this growth, the company will create up to 300 new jobs with hiring starting in 2020.
“This is a historic moment for Saab,” said President and CEO of Saab, Håkan Buskhe. “After careful consideration, we have chosen West Lafayette, thanks to the visionary leadership of both the state of Indiana and the world-leading Purdue University. Today’s announcement is a part of our growth strategy in the United States and deepens our relationship with the U.S. customer. We see great possibilities here for this facility and our partnerships.”
The Stockholm-based company will invest $37 million to construct and equip a facility to manufacture a significant portion of the T-X advanced pilot training aircraft, which will help train future U.S. Air Force pilots for generations to come. The U.S. Air Force selected the Boeing-Saab partnership in September 2018 for the T-X pilot training program and plans to purchase 351 jets in the first phase. In Indiana, Saab will produce major aero structures for the T-X, which features an all-new aircraft designed, developed and manufactured by Boeing and Saab.
“Indiana has long been a national leader in manufacturing, and today’s announcement demonstrates the Hoosier state continues playing a key role in propelling the industry forward by attracting investment from around the globe,” said Governor Eric J. 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.”
Subject to approval of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) Board of Directors, IEDC will offer Saab up to $3.9 million in conditional tax credits and up to $1.15 million in training grants over two phases based on the company’s job creation plans. The IEDC will also offer up to $200,000 in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment (HBI) tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These incentives are performance-based, meaning the company is not eligible to receive incentives until jobs are created and qualified capital investment is made. Purdue Research Foundation, the city of West Lafayette, the city of Lafayette and Tippecanoe County all offered additional incentives.
Construction of the facility is expected to begin in 2020 at the Discovery Park District to support the rapid T-X production rate demand of the program. Saab expects to begin hiring for assembly operators and airplane mechanics as well as for logistics, manufacturing engineering, administration and management roles in 2020. The company will also co-operate with Purdue University to expand Saab’s U.S.-based research and development within possible focus areas, such as sensor systems, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.
“Purdue’s strong history in aircraft research and development makes Saab’s choice a natural fit,” said Purdue University 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.”
With operations on every continent, Saab continuously develops, adapts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs. The company has over 17,000 employees and had $3.49 billion (SEK 33.2 billion) in sales in 2018, of which roughly 23 percent is re-invested in research and development.
“This collaboration involves many partners at many different levels who all came together to help make this momentous project happen,” said West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis. “We all felt that the entire Greater Lafayette community will benefit from Saab’s presence well beyond the economic development, but also the community enrichment that Saab employees and their families will bring to our area and Discovery Park District.”
The T-X advanced pilot training program offers an all-new system purpose-built for the U.S. Air Force– with aircraft, ground based training and support designed together from the start. With suppliers including Triumph Group, General Electric, Collins Aerospace and L3 Technologies, the T-X will be more than 90 percent made in America and is expected to support more than 17,000 U.S. jobs. Initial operating capability of the T-X advanced pilot training aircraft is expected by the end of 2024 with full operational capability projected for 2034.
Purdue’s Discovery Park District is part of a $1 billion long-term project to transform the west side of the university campus, creating a preeminent environment for intellectual discourse and high-tech commercial enterprise. The district is being developed by Purdue Research Foundation in partnership with Browning Investments LLC for the master planning and development of the district. The Saab project is the sixth major project announced in the past two years for Discovery Park District.
The 176-acre Discovery Park District Aerospace, which was named an Indiana Certified Technology Park in 2015, is one of the few in the country that houses an active airport adjoining property that can support public and private aerospace research facilities. The district also is home to Purdue’s Zucrow Laboratories, known for jet engine research, Rolls-Royce’s jet engine component facility and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory’s electrical engineering research and development facility, currently under construction, called SEL Purdue.
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