According to the Janes publication, Sweden has announced intentions to replace its NH Industries (NHI) NH90 marine helicopters. Simultaneously, the Nordic country aiming for NATO membership has opted to boost its fleet of land-role UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.
The proclamation was issued on November 1 by General Micael Bydén, the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, as part of a batch of anticipated capacity upgrades presented to the Swedish government for assessment. The decision comes only months after Sweden’s neighbour Norway disposed of its NH90 helicopter fleet.
“Among other things, it is suggested to improve air defence by acquiring a new sea-operational helicopter and an extra ground-operational helicopter 16,” Gen Bydén added, referring to the UH-60 M’s national designation of HKP 16. In 2011, Sweden became the first European country to purchase the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter.
Major General Carl-Johan Edstrom, Commander of the Swedish Air Force, stated during a Swedish Air Force event on July 17 that the NH90 was not performing as expected, and that the military was conducting a full study of its rotary requirements.
The Commander also claimed at the time that Sweden was negotiating with other operators what it would do with its NH90 fleet. He also stated that the UH-60M fleet was “operating pretty well.”
The NH90 fleet in Sweden was expected to be fully operational in 2008, however due to persistent delays, this has yet to happen.
The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) presently has 18 NH90 helicopters in service, with the eventual objective of fielding nine HKP 14E troop transport/assault/search-and-rescue (SAR) and HKP 14F anti-submarine warfare (ASW)/anti-surface warfare (ASuW)/SAR standard aircraft.
The delays that have plagued the NH90 have frustrated the Swedish Air Force at a time when the country is embroiled in a conflict. It is the second country in the region, after Norway, to abandon helicopters, and the third, after Australia.
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