Sweden Orders Grob G 120TP for Basic Trainer Needs

 - May 6, 2021, 5:08 AM
The G 120TP is in use with a number of air arms, including the RAF and the U.S. Army. (Photo: Grob Aircraft)

Swedish defense procurement agency Försvarets materielverk (FMV) has signed an order with Grob Aircraft of Germany for the supply of a military training system based on the G 120TP trainer aircraft. The deal covers seven aircraft, simulator, and other computer-based training aids, along with flight safety equipment. Grob will also provide line and heavy maintenance.

To be designated SK 40 in Swedish air force service, the G 120TP will undertake the Grundläggande flygutbildningen (GFU) basic training phase at Malmen airbase near Linköping. Currently, the training is undertaken using the Saab SK 60 jet trainer. Despite having undergone a series of upgrades the SK 60s are nearing the end of their useful lives, with the type having been in service since 1967.

The G 120TP has proven to be a popular choice for military training and is used by 11 countries. It is powered by a Rolls-Royce M250-B17F turboprop, which offers 456 shp for take-off and 380 shp at maximum cruising power. The engine can be limited to 312 shp to cater for ab initio training requirements. The trainer has a maximum operating speed of 235 knots and stall speed of 57 knots, and is rated for +6/-4g for aerobatic training. It features a modern cockpit with two large multifunction displays for both instructor and student.

Deliveries of the G 120TP to Sweden are due to begin in May 2022, with the first aircraft undergoing clearance trials with the FMV. Handover to the air force is expected in the first quarter of 2023 to begin the training of instructors. The training of new students is due to start in summer 2024.

Acquiring the G 120TP is the first of a two-phase modernization of Sweden’s military pilot training program. Sweden has sought a new basic trainer to replace the SK 60 for some time, but the procurement program was postponed several times due mainly to budgetary constraints. A renewed effort began in 2019/20, leading to the release of a request for tenders in April 2020. Further G 120TP purchases could be made.

In the second phase of the plan Sweden intends to acquire an advanced jet trainer, the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk—in which Saab is the main industrial partner—being a strong candidate. In the meantime, SK 60s will continue to handle advanced elements of the syllabus, possibly augmented in the mid-2020s by JAS 39D Gripen two-seaters as an interim solution pending the entry into service of the new advanced trainer.