Saab—”It’s a human right to feel safe”

During our time in Stockholm, we also had the opportunity to visit SAAB, a Swedish aerospace company that was founded back in 1937. Saab currently serves the global market with world-leading products, services, and solutions from military defense (in all domains) to civil security. At one point in time, many knew Saab as a producer of automobiles—a joint venture with General Motors. While no longer producing civilian automobiles, Saab does produce aircraft fighter systems, ground combat weaponry, and conventional submarines, with an overall mission to keep people and society safe. Saab has taken on an important role, (though highly controversial in Sweden), and they continue be a key player in the defense industry for Sweden and countless other countries as well.

When we arrived to Saab, we were greeted by SVP/head of business area and management, Lars Tossman. Lars gave us a brief tour of the (public side) of the office, as well as an overview on how Saab is working to protect and keep people safe. Our class was able to see various models of Saab technology, including submarines, weapons, radars, and fighter jets. The advanced technology was quite impressive! One thing we found highly interesting was their submarine’s ability to remain undetectable, despite being a conventional submarine as opposed to an attack or fighter submarine. It was also fascinating to learn that Saab sells many products to other countries (with a strict approval process), and that their anti-tank weapon has been a key defense for Ukraine in slowing down the Russian army. Like most companies in Sweden, Saab also has a sustainability commitment to drive value and long-term development and growth.

We also can’t not discuss the controversiality of Saab in Sweden; many Swedes have been opposed to supporting the production of weaponry, and investors have been reluctant to invest in the company as well. Sweden has often attempted to remain neutral. This is quite different than many views in the United States, which often boasts and celebrates national defense—the United States has an undeniably large sense of pride in this arena. However, there has been a slight shift in Sweden since Russia invaded Ukraine, and Sweden plans to up their defense budget to 2% from 1.4% of GDP.

More from Max:

My current career field is in aerospace, so to have the opportunity to explore what my company’s competitors are doing, and how they differ from other defense companies was interesting. As a United States Army veteran, I’ve also had the opportunity to utilize many equipment, such as the anti-tank weapon, camo net, and radar detectors Because of this, visiting Saab was even more exciting to me given its nature and the personal relation I had in the use of equipment.

What surprised me to know, was that I was utilizing Saab equipment while on my deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, not knowing what company was making them. I was pleased to learn that Sweden is also supplying Ukraine with the anti-tank weapons in an effort to slow down Russian advancement. Saab equipment has been effective in battle and in training, which has led to countries such as the U.S, Canada, Mexico and many more to buy Saab’s high-tech equipment. Mr. Tossman also explained the regulations and laws that govern the exporting of weapons to other countries, which was reassuring.

One thing I noticed from Saab compared to other companies, is that they have an incredibly strong focus on sustainability. Saab is focused on minimizing the negative social and environmental impacts which I found to be amazing, and something the United States needs to focus on more as well.

Read more on Saab here: https://www.saab.com/about

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