Saab Holds Ribbon Cutting At New Aerospace Plant In West Lafayette

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Saab has cut the ribbon on a new aerospace plant in West Lafayette’s Purdue Discovery Park.

Saab will build airframes in West Lafayette for 350 T-7A Red Hawk training jets for the Air Force. Saab expects to start production in two or three years, and increase its workforce from the current 60 or so to 300 by 2027.

SAAB provided photo

Saab broke ground on the 37-million-dollar facility two years ago, and boasts that despite the pandemic, it finished construction on time and on budget. Chairman Marcus Wallenberg notes when the company first began building aircraft in the 1930s, American engineers traveled to its headquarters in Sweden to assist. He says the Purdue plant, Saab’s seventh in the U-S, brings the company full circle.

While the Red Hawk contract is the plant’s first project, C-E-O Micael Johansson says the company plans to use the plant and its neighbors at Purdue to branch out into artificial intelligence, sensor technology, fuel efficiency, self-piloting planes, and other advanced manufacturing: He says Saab typically reinvests a fifth of its revenue in research and development, and says having research partners just down the road — and a pipeline of potential new employees — was a critical factor in the decision to locate in West Lafayette.

About 60-percent of the current employees have Purdue ties. Purdue president Mitch Daniels predicts the plant will be the flagship of what he calls “a high-tech boomtown” in the research park.He says as Saab’s work with Purdue pays dividends, other manufacturers will take notice.

 

COVER PHOTO:

From left Marcus Wallenberg, chairman of the board for Saab Inc., Micael Johansson, president and CEO of Saab, Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony during the grand opening celebration of the Saab facility in the Discovery Park District, adjacent to Purdue University’s campus. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe)