Special report: Savvy Swedes

Our new issue of Flight International contains an eight-page Sweden country special report, with a stunning cover image of an air force Gripen taken by Gunnar Åkerberg.

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I contributed an 1,800-word piece on the Swedish air force’s current activities, including a look back at the Gripen’s reconnaissance role over Libya (the nation’s first operational commitment with fighters in 50 years), and its current preparations to send UH-60M Black Hawks to Afghanistan next March to pick up a medical evacuation role (shot below of an aircraft at Malmen air base, taken by Lasse Jansson of the Swedish armed forces).

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To coin a phrase from the UK, the Black Hawk buy is a true example of “Smart Procurement” – an off-the-shelf fleet of aircraft, with a ready operating concept and an established pilot and maintainer training pipeline that Swedish personnel could use quickly. This means the air force will take on the medevac mission less than two years after ordering its aircraft – quite a contrast to the NH90s which its chief of staff says still need “a few more years” to be operationally capable.


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