On 1 November 2022, Sweden's Defence Chief General Micael Byden, revealed the new Defence spending and equipment plans for the coming period. The most significant news item is the plan to retire fleet of NH90 helicopters.
The Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces) operate two variants of the NH90; the Hkp14E (troop transport, assault and SAR version) and the Hkp14F (ASW/ASuW and SAR version).
With the new proposal, Sweden follows the lead of neighbouring Norway in retiring the NH90. Both countries have decided that the NH90 is definitely not able to meet the needs of the Armed Forces.
Contrary to Norway, which instantly stopped operating the NH90 on 10 June 2022, Sweden's proposal will see the NH90 starts being withdrawn from use in 2024 with the entire fleet retired by 2030. The proposal will be sent to the Parliament (Riksdag) for approval, but will likely move ahead.
During the same 2024-2030 period a parallel acquisition for a new maritime platform will run, while additional Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks are also procured. Any delays encountered in delivery of replacements will result in more gradual NH90 withdrawals, but the entire fleet is to be retired by 2035 at the latest under the new plans.
The Försvarsmaktens Helikopterflottilj (Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Wing) already operates the UH-60M Black Hawk. The service entering date of the Hkp14 was delayed to such an extent, that a batch of fifteen UH-60Ms had to be acquired as a stop-gap for the MEDEVAC-role in Afghanistan due to the Swedish Super Pumas being retired. The Black Hawk is a big success and reliable workhorse to the armed forces.
A possible successor for the ASW/ASuW version of the NH90 can be the MH-60R Seahawk. An all Black Hawk/Sea Hawk component sounds great, but might not be the solution. The main playing field for a Swedish ASW/ASuW platform is the Baltic Sea and even if the MH-60R, there is a sliding scale between an off-the-shelf UH-60M buy and a stripped MH-60R fitted with Swedish ASW-equipment and weapons dedicated to the Baltic Sea-environment.
To be continued ....
Photo by Oliver Larsson (Scramble Archive)