June 17, 2013
The Swedish air force is writing requirements to replace its aging fleet of Lockheed C-130H Hercules and Saab 105 jet trainers.
Though it has firmed up its plans for the development of a new generation of Saab JAS 39 Gripen multirole combat aircraft, the air arm’s fleet of C-130s are among the oldest of their type operating in Europe, while the Saab 105s, known as Sk60s, need replacing by 2020 to be ready to support future generations of Gripen pilots.
Speaking at the Swedish air force Fan Club on June 16, on the eve of the Paris air show, Major General Micael Bydén, chief of staff for the Swedish air force, said that the service was writing up its recommendations to begin looking at the procurement of new types. Bydén says the air arm “bailed” on its original plans to put its Hercules tactical airlift fleet through the U.S. Air Force’s Avionics Modernization Program (AMP), and that the aircraft have not received any upgrades for several years.
“The aircraft are now requiring a lot of support,” Bydén says.
Several of Sweden’s neighbors have replaced their elderly C-130E and “H” models with C-130Js, and Bydén says the C-130J option will be considered, as will the A400M. Airbus Military recently said it plans to target Scandinavian countries for possible A400M sales. Any initial buy will focus on the oldest aircraft in the fleet.
“We are not likely to buy more aircraft than we currently have,” Bydén says. “It will be eight aircraft or fewer.”
Sweden is a signatory to the NATO-owned Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) provided by the Heavy Airlift Wing based in Pápa, Hungary; it previously considered purchasing two C-17s of its own, but plans did not proceed further.
Bydén also says plans are being drawn up for a new training aircraft fleet to replace the late-1960s vintage Saab 105s. Those aircraft are in the process of receiving a limited upgrade to their avionics, but Bydén points out that a new, modern type is required to assist pilots moving over to Gripen from their synthetic training. Bydén says he is open to either turboprop or jet trainers, but that he isn’t looking for aircraft such as the T-50 or Hawk, which are almost as expensive as fighter aircraft.
Some consideration would also be given for two types of aircraft, one an ab initio, or basic, trainer; the other a more advanced aircraft. Studies have taken place on joint training with the other Nordic nations. Finland’s Patria, for example, has been pushing its Nordic Pilot Training Center (NPTC) for several years using former Swiss air force Hawk Mk. 66s.