Sweden makes surprise Black Hawk request

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Sweden has expressed interest in a possible future purchase of 15 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters, with a deal to be worth almost $550 million.

Announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the possible Foreign Military Sale would come in addition to Stockholm's ongoing acquisition of the NH Industries NH90. Its defence forces helicopter wing has so far received four of the type from a delayed 18-aircraft contract for the European type.

"Due to the delay in getting the NH90 operational the government took a decision in the beginning of this summer that Sweden should buy a helicopter system that could be operational in 2013," the nation's Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) says.

 
© Nina Karlsson/Swedish Helicopter Wing
Sweden's introduction of the NH90 is running late

“We are looking at helicopter systems from several countries to see what is possible to purchase with that timeline, but at the moment we can’t comment on specific types,” the FMV says.

Details of Stockholm's interest in the Black Hawk were revealed in a DSCA notification to US Congress. In addition to providing General Electric T700-701D-powered aircraft, the possible $546 million deal would also include a range of countermeasures equipment, training services and logistics support, the agency says.

 
© Sikorsky

If advanced, a sale could support Swedish and coalition personnel in Afghanistan, and would "enable the Swedish forces to address an urgent shortfall in combat search and rescue and medical evacuation transport capability," says the DSCA.

A decision on a new helicopter purchase could be made late this year, and the FMV stresses that Sweden will not cancel its NH90 procurement.

Sweden also already operates nine Eurocopter AS332 transports, says Flightglobal's HeliCAS database.