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Saab to open fighter jet plant near Purdue

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 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 news 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 to expand Saab’s U.S.-based research and development within possible areas such as sensor systems, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.

“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,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in the release. “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.”

The Stockholm-based company will invest $37 million to locate and build an Indiana-based workforce in West Lafayette.

“Purdue’s strong history in aircraft research and development makes Saab’s choice a natural fit,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels in the release. “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.”

The full news conference is below. App users can go online to view it.