The four Swedish Air Force UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters are all home again from their medevac assignment in Afghanistan. The return of the last machine, at 04:05 local time (UTC 03:05) on 21 May 2014, marked the end of the war debut of the type in Försvarsmaktens service and the end of the Swedish rotary deployment in the Asian country.
The Sikorsky-built choppers arrived home by C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter, which has room for two Black Hawks plus four pallets of materiel. Sweden deployed medevac helicopters to Afghanistan for the last three years, first Aérospatiale AS332 Super Pumas (HKP 10) and during the last year the HKP 16s as the Black Hawks are designated by Swedish defence.
The last war mission was flown about a week ago, although nobody in Sweden officially calls the nations contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan a war operation.
All rotations combined, more than 300 Swedish armed forces personnel were deployed with the heli unit. Of the unit strength of 40 men and women, the last 14 will return home soon. The Black Hawks will remain in quarantine for a month. The clean-up process includes a medical check-up by a veterinary doctor to make sure no strange animals are still inside the machine before they are released from their temporary captivity.
No doubt the operations in Afghanistan have provided the Swedish Armed Forces with valuable knowledge about the usefulness of the UH-60M in difficult situations. The purchase of 15 Black Hawks was initially an emergency buy, because of the much delayed European made NH90. Facing operational problems the government in Stockholm acted quickly.
Currently the UH-60s (HKP 16s) and NH90s (HKP 14s) both fly with the Helicopter Command at Malmen in Linköping. But with the Germans in Afghanistan having much operational complaints, and the Dutch NH90s facing sever problems with their NH90s, the valuable experience the Swedish Armed Forces gained with their Black Hawks might seal the faith of the HKP 14 in the future if efficiency will be weighed against budget and operational demands.
We at AIRheads↑Fly just hope somebody in the military allocates some cash to paint the Black Hawks in the wonderful splinter camo we once used to see on the Flygvapnets choppers.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger