The Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Command in Linköping has confirmed on October 2, 2013, that the new grey painted NH90 MI is about to arrive. Before the end of the year the new version of the helicopter will be introduced and will start to fly alongside the American-made Black Hawks.
Helikopter 14 International Mission (HKP 14 IM) as the type is designated within the Swedish armed forces will have new gear, besides the grey colour. Compared to the four green painted base versions already delivered to the Swedish Armed Forces, the HKP 14 IM has a anti-sandfilter (ASF) on the air intakes, a winch at the right side and an electro-optic sensor (EOS) in the nose with a day camera, IR-camera and laser range metre. The new version will also be able to open the ramp in the back and load equipment underneath its belly. The first HKP 14 IM has tail number 50.
Protection plates against incoming bullets, armoured seating in the cockpit and extra navigation and sensor systems will be new on the inside of the helicopter. After the first new grey NH90 has been delivered, 13 will follow. The four green HKP 14s already delivered will be upgraded to the new standard. The ‘greens’ bear tail number 42, 43, 44, 45.
Right now the Swedish Armed Forces have four certified pilots to fly the new type. Although Helikopterflottiljen at F3 Malsmslätt airbase in Linköping is the principal operator, the Swedish NH90s will be dispatched to 3 Helicopter Squadron in Ronneby, near Karlskrona naval base in the south, and 1 Helicopter Squadron at Kallax in Luleå close to the border with Finland.
It is still uncertain whether Sweden will keep its 15 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters (HKP 16) long-term. The Scandinavian country quickly bought and received the M-version as first European customer from the Americans to fill the gap of the much delayed arrival of the NH90. The Swedes seem to be very happy with the Black Hawk’s performance, proving it even in combat in Afghanistan. Since April four of Helikopterflottiljen HKP 16s are flying as SAE ISAF Medevac (Swedish Air Element ISAF Medical Evacuation) from the German ISAF Camp Marmal near Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of Afghanistan.
Experts believe the Black Hawk will serve both the Swedish expeditionary forces policy and the country’s climate better than the NH90, but the decision to keep both types flying might depend a lot on budgetary calculations.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with source information from a.o. Försvarsmakten