Sweden Requests UH-60s for ISAF, but Sticks with Delayed NH-90s

 - October 14, 2010, 2:16 PM
Sweden’s decision to purchase 15 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks does not affect its procurement of the NH-90, pictured here, but it makes it less likely the nation will exercise its option for seven more NH-90s.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified a potential sale to Sweden of 15 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. Estimated at a value of $546 million, the request also covers 34 General Electric T700-GE-701D turboshaft engines and 15 defensive aid sets, each comprising AAR-57(V)3 missile warning, APR-39 radar warning and AVR-2B laser warning systems.

If it proceeds, this deal will run alongside procurement of the NH-90 (HKP 14) helicopter, for which Sweden signed a contract in 2001 for 18 high-cabin versions (plus seven options), including 13 tactical troop transport/SAR versions. Saab was nominated as the subcontractor to NH Industries for systems integration. However, the program has been seriously delayed, with only five NH-90s delivered for trials and basic training. In the meantime, Sweden has a large force in Afghanistan, operating from Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of the country as part of ISAF. Earlier this year, Sweden urgently ordered AAI Shadow 200 UAVs to support the force, and now helicopter support for these troops is seen as an urgent requirement.

The Swedish defense minister previewed a decision to seek another medium-lift helicopter at an airpower symposium at Malmen last June. The capability is needed by 2013 to address the current shortfall in CSAR and medevac capability, as well as dramatically increase airlift capacity.

The Swedish defense material agency, FMV, said that any new helicopter deal does not affect the NH-90 procurement, although the likelihood of the seven options being exercised appears to be reduced. According to a renegotiated schedule, Sweden should start receiving fully mission-capable NH-90s in 2012, for operational duty in 2014.