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Farnborough 2022: Swedish Air Force loses patience with NH90, considers going the ‘way of Norway’

18th July 2022 - 10:58 GMT | by Tim Martin in Farnborough

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Sweden is actively considering whether or not to prematurely end NH90 operations. (Photo: NHIndustries)

Will Sweden follow in the footsteps of Norway and prematurely end NH90 operations?

Maj Gen Carl-Johan Edstrom, chief of the Swedish Air Force, has vented his frustration at under-fire manufacturer NHIndustries, claiming that the NH90 partner is not ‘delivering what they should’ and revealing that consideration is being given to whether or not Sweden prematurely replaces the country’s fleet.

Speaking at a 17 July press briefing in London, Edstrom said that Sweden’s supreme military commander Gen Micael Bydén will issue guidance on the country’s long-term helicopter modernisation strategy in November 2022. 

Edstrom noted that a final phase of study is underway.

‘The big decision will be what we do with the NH90 and whether we continue to operate it or go the way of Norway and select another system,’ Edstrom said. ‘We are still a strong partner in the NH90 family and we have talked to countries [including Norway] that have made decisions about changing the system. The NH90 is not delivering what it should be at the moment.’

Sweden operates 18 NH90 helicopters with the designation Helikopter 14: nine built to the TTH configuration and nine for SAR/anti-submarine warfare missions.

While Edstrom did not talk of operational problems associated with the fleet, prior reports have often focused on aircraft deliveries being significantly delayed.

In the wake of Norway cancelling its NH90 contract, the renewed public criticism of the helicopter will cause concern for NHIndustries.

Besides what happens in the near future with Helicopter 14, Edstrom confirmed that ‘no decision had been taken yet’ regarding which 'basic' training helicopter succeeds the AW109 (Helikopter 15) ahead of the fleet being phased out from 2030 onwards.

He said that Sweden’s UH-60M Black Hawks are operating ‘really well’ and will benefit from ‘continuous upgrades’ to stay in service until 2040.

Sweden also intends to replace four of its C-130H transport aircraft with newer C-130J models from 2028 and it aims to proceed with a Gripen C/D upgrade that will include integration of the RBS15 Mk4 anti-ship missile and a ‘new radar capability’, according to Edstrom.

Swedish Air Force plans call for an additional Gripen squadron in 2030 and it aims thereafter to retain a full complement of 60 Gripen C/D and 60 E/F variants.

‘We will release new upgrades almost yearly for Gripen, mostly software upgrades and hardware upgrades every three to four years,’ added Edstrom. ‘The main reason for this is to remain operationally relevant as a fighting force but also ensure optimised management at industry level.’  

Tim Martin

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Tim Martin


Tim Martin is Editor, Air for Shephard Media, based in London. 

Tim has experience writing and …

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