Saab Grintek Defence : At the Cutting Edge of Defence

Sam PatrickThomas ArnoldLily Sawyer
Sam Patrick - Project Manager Thomas Arnold - Senior Head of Projects Lily Sawyer - Editor
Saab Grintek Defence Main

Committed to continuous development and innovation, Saab Grintek Defence manufactures and develops integrated electronic warfare self-protection systems widely used across the global defence sector. Jan Widerström, President and Managing Director, explains how the company plans to remain at the forefront of the domain.


As a dynamic and multifaceted space dedicated to keeping people and society safe, Africa’s defence industry presents both opportunities and challenges.  

“The complexities of the geopolitical landscape and the difficulties associated with exporting from the continent can create hurdles. However, it is important to acknowledge that Africa possesses the necessary tools for success,” opens Jan Widerström, President and Managing Director of Saab Grintek Defence (SGD).  

As a South African defence company that specialises in electronic warfare systems, sensor technology, and avionics across various domains, SGD, a subsidiary of Saab, emerges as an industry leader. SGD’s electronic solutions also encompass self-protection systems for aircraft, helicopters, land vehicles, naval vessels, and submarines. 

Having supplied its systems to over 20 countries around the world, SGD continues to maintain and expand its success across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.  

“Our extensive global footprint provides us with a distinct advantage, allowing us to deliver unmatched support and solutions on a worldwide scale,” Widerström outlines. 

In addition, the company offers signals intelligence systems for the passive interception and analysis of radar and communication signals, providing improved situational awareness from airborne, land-based, and naval platforms.  

“We are a world-leading centre of competence for digital processing, microwave components, and antenna technology,” he enthuses.  

At the core of SGD’s success is its approximately 400-strong staff base, who work across the company’s two campuses in Pretoria and Cape Town.  

Driven by a shared passion for creating a safer world, SGD’s staff leverage their deep domain knowledge and technical expertise to develop state-of-the-art systems that enable effective communication, gather critical intelligence, and neutralise threats.


As the African defence industry witnesses widespread advancement, particularly in R&D, technical progress continues to be made.  

“Our cutting-edge technology considerably sets SGD apart from the competition and positions us at the forefront of the industry,” Widerström comments. 

In addition, with a legacy of over 50 years in the electronic warfare (EW) domain, SGD’s deep-rooted expertise and wealth of industry knowledge ensures the company’s robust and trustworthy reputation as a trusted partner, whilst its rich history speaks volumes about its dedication and proficiency.  

“Our customer-centric approach enables us to adapt to and anticipate the evolving needs of our clients,” he continues. 

Furthermore, as a company dedicated to remaining at the forefront of progress and innovation, SGD notes the importance of staying abreast of defence in Africa.  

“Given the evolving nature of threats and the development of advanced missile systems globally, it is imperative that we are equipped to effectively address and counter these emerging challenges.” 

Therefore, SGD’s advanced MAW-400 missile approach warning sensors provide early threat detection in order to allow the timely deployment of decoys to maximise platform protection.  

“The sensors have been designed to enhance survivability in combat situations, particularly those installed on helicopters, which can be considered airborne military platforms,” Widerström details.  

SGD based the development of the MAW-400 sensor on prior experience with its predecessor, the MAW-300. 


As a company committed to nurturing its employees, clients, and suppliers, SGD firmly believes that corporate social investment (CSI) plays a crucial role in shaping the environment in which it operates. 

“Over the past few years, we have allocated resources to various CSI initiatives strategically aligned with poverty alleviation, education enhancement, and reducing unemployment across the country,” Widerström reveals.  

These include community upliftment initiatives and support for educational programmes, such as the company’s adoption of the high-performing Ribane-Laka Secondary School, which is now transitioning to a school of specialisation (SoS) in maths, science, ICT, and engineering.  

The company also provides bursaries and scholarships for student programmes, mentorship, and coaching initiatives, whilst participating in Disability Connect and the Workplace Acceleration Programme, to name a few.   

“SGD believes that CSI is about changing the environment for the betterment of the business and broader industry, which builds future employees, clients, and suppliers,” he elaborates.  

Another of the ways SGD is actively working towards its goal of becoming a greener company is through a self-funded solar project.  

“This initiative is testament to SGD’s commitment to sustainability and reducing our overall environmental impact as a business,” Widerström expands. 

Sustainability is deeply ingrained within SGD’s business strategy, and it believes that the solar project will not only benefit the company but contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future for all.

“We pride ourselves on being a true engineering company, with technology serving as the cornerstone of our operations”

Jan Widerström, President and Managing Director, Saab Grintek Defence


As a business operating within the niche of self-protection and against a backdrop of a constantly changing defence landscape, keeping ahead of evolving threats remains a top priority for SGD. As such, investing in advanced technology has become an increasingly important factor.   

“We pride ourselves on being a true engineering company, with technology serving as the cornerstone of our operations,” emphasises Widerström. 

Ensuring it delivers solutions that not only meet but exceed the expectations of customers, partners, and suppliers is crucial, and advanced technology enhances SGD’s ability to adapt and innovate.  

“When considering the significance of meeting our customers’ evolving needs, technology plays a vital role.” 

Evidently, SGD values its relationships with partners and suppliers highly and views them as strategic assets that help the company maintain its position as a leader in the EW domain.   

“Our partners and suppliers are instrumental in providing the necessary support to enable us to widely deliver cutting-edge defence solutions,” he notes. 

To achieve this, SGD prioritises maintaining open lines of communication with partners and suppliers. 

This is especially important in today’s ever-evolving supply chain landscape, where demands are constantly changing.  

Going forward, SGD plans to focus on driving sustainable growth for the company whilst expanding its market presence.  

“We are committed to strengthening our recruitment base in South Africa, ensuring that we have the right talent to drive our business forward,” he concludes.  

Finally, the company is working towards cultivating a work environment that nurtures employee development whilst fostering a sense of fulfilment in their roles. 

By prioritising these areas, SGD aims to position itself for continued growth and excellence. 


REPUBLISHED ON:Manufacturing Outlook
PUBLISHED BY:Outlook Publishing
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By Sam Patrick Project Manager
Sam Patrick is Project Manager (Automotive, Aerospace, Defence, Maritime, and Manufacturing) specialising in showcasing innovation and corporate success from across Africa. Sam works with c-suite executives, industry titans and sector disruptors to bring you exclusive features. Connell also works on our EME Outlook and APAC Outlook Magazines.
By Thomas Arnold Senior Head of Projects