EghtesadOnline: Iran Army Air Force has launched an initiative to strengthen relations with the major automaker SAIPA for sharing technologies, bolstering domestic auto production and reducing foreign dependency.
During a visit to SAIPA’s production and design departments, Commander of Iran Air Force Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh said the army is willing to offer its latest knowhow and technological capacities to the automotive sector for designing and manufacturing high-tech components and engines, the automaker’s website Saipanews.com reported.
Nasirzadeh said the result of the collaboration will benefit both sides.
“The army would like to use the capabilities of SAIPA and its subsidiary part makers to produce special engines for drones. In return, the army would help the automaker develop complex auto components that are currently imported,” he said.
Reportedly, the two have started negotiations on collaboration details to design and integrated contract.
The air force chief said in case a reliable cooperation plan is devised, the US sanctions that have troubled the automotive sector will be easily overcome.
Nasirzadeh acknowledged SAIPA’s sustained and promising efforts to enhance the quality and variety of its products and said SAIPA has an adequate number of expert technicians and machinery, which constitute the required infrastructure for growth.
The air force’s initiative to start a joint venture is a follow-up of a deal signed between the two sides in mid-September.
According to the deal signed between Deputy Coordinator of Iran Air Force Brigadier General Mehdi Hadian and a member of SAIPA’s board of directors, Masoum Najafian, the former’s technologies were to be shared with the carmaker.
At the signing event, Hadian emphasized that the auto sector and army have a lot in common.
“Army’s Air Force has upgraded high-tech equipment, which can help flourish the domestic auto sector. The linkup can put this potential into practice and fill the gaps on both sides,” he said.
Hadian noted that the establishment of professional joint working groups can help define more projects between the automaker and the air force.
Najafian said self-sufficiency in the production of all auto parts, especially high-tech components, is the main challenge facing the auto sector.
“The goal is certainly achievable with the army’s support. Besides maximizing the share of domestic producers in the auto part sector, this cooperation can also be extended to launch new schemes and expand the sector’s horizons,” he added.
Transferring the technologies and capabilities of armed forces to the domestic auto industry has been placed on the agenda of Iranian authorities.
In May, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Aerospace Force said the force can provide Iranian automakers with advanced technologies so that they can overcome their shortcomings and reduce their reliance on foreign firms.
During a visit to the University of Science and Technology, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told reporters that the IRGC Aerospace Force is ready to give consultations to Iranian carmakers to address their shortcomings in the field of technology and car parts production.
He described the reliance on local capabilities and domestic knowledge-based companies the key to success.
“IRGC does not plan to take the helm of the industrial sector and start manufacturing cars, but our goal is to extend help and [provide carmakers with] consultations,” he added.
The Defense Ministry has also stepped in to support domestic automakers to curb their reliance on foreign parts.
In early June 2019, the ministry started sharing its technological capabilities with local car companies, Iran Khodro Company and SAIPA.
With the ministry's support, the production of homegrown substitutes for key imported car parts was placed on the agenda.
In an integrated move, the ministry signed a deal with local car manufacturing company SAIPA in December 2019 to bolster collaboration in research and development, design, technical monitoring, safety standards and localization of parts.
The ministry helped produce domestic substitutes for 35 key auto parts in Iran to curb the industry’s reliance on the global supply chain.
According to Seyyed Javad Soleimani, CEO of SAIPA, 23% of auto parts used in SAIPA cars need to be imported.
“If the agreement with the ministry is fully implemented, localization of parts manufacturing will prevent the capital flight of $300 million per year,” he said.