The first ‘real’ NH90 helicopter of the Swedish Armed Forces was delivered to the Helicopter Command at Malmen Airbase in Linköping on 17 December 2013.
The Hkp14, as the type is dubbed in Swedish service, with tail number 51 is the first grey painted Swedish one and the first with all the capabilities as ordered. Four green painted lesser version aircraft already fly with the Försvarsmakten for some time, but for training purposes only.
A day after arrival Helikopter 14 no. 51 was formerly commissioned by the Swedish Air Force, which flies all Swedish military helicopters for the three military branches. The NH90 made the delivery flight from Eurocopters service plant in Finland via an stop-over at Luleå-Kallax, home to the 1st Helicopter Squadron. From there it flew to Helicopter Commands main base in Linköping, the city that is also home to the Saab aircraft plant on a second airfield.
In March or April 2014 the Swedish Hkp14s start arriving at their operational squadrons in Ronneby in the southeast (mainly support for the Navy) and Luleå-Kallax (Air Force and Army). Another four Hkp14s are scheduled to be delivered in 2014, but that is already years behind the original planning. The Swedish government reacted quickly by buying 15 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters which were redirected from the US Army production. It made Sweden the first European country to operate the Mike version. Swedish Black Hawks currently serve out of Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan in support of ISAF.
Long term question will be if the Swedes keep the NH90s. The type has shown itself almost not at all worthy to be deployed in difficult conditions. The Germans have loads of basic operational problems with their NH90s they deployed to Afghanistan that currently operate alongside the Swedish Black Hawk flight.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger