Sweden could decide on a replacement for its veteran fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports before the end of 2024, as the nation’s air force embarks on a period of major modernisation.

“Our H-model C-130s are pretty old,” says deputy Swedish air force commander Brigadier General Tommy Petersson. “We intend to replace them, and I hope the decision is very soon.”

Cirium data records the Swedish air force’s remaining five operational C-130H transports as each aged 43 years, while its lone KC-130H tanker entered use in May 1969.

Lead candidates for their replacement are the C-130J and Embraer’s C/KC-390.

Swedish air force C-130H

Source: AirTeamImages

The Swedish air force operates six aged C/KC-130H airlifters

“We have an upcoming defence bill late this year, with no decision yet, but we will see some more resources coming,” Petersson says. “We are growing as an air force,” he adds.

Additional procurement activity could involve replacing the service’s VIP transport assets: a role currently filled using single examples of the Gulfstream IV and G550.

Stockholm also must decide on its replacement strategy for the NH Industries NH90, having been dissatisfied with the type’s operational performance. Eighteen examples are in use with the Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Wing, with the fleet divided between utility transport and maritime duties.

Contracts are already in place to deliver 60 Saab Gripen E fighters for squadron service from next year, along with at least two Saab GlobalEye multi-role surveillance aircraft, to be fielded from 2027.

“It is a heavy workload for us in the latter half of the 2020s, because we are replacing almost everything,” Petersson told journalists while visiting a Gripen C/D road-strip operation exercise near Satenas air base on 21 May.

Additionally, he says the Swedish armed forces are making good progress with full integration to NATO, following the nation’s formal accession to the western military alliance in early March.

“We have been a very close partner to NATO for 25 years,” he notes. “On a unit level I would say we are already integrated.

“Tactically and operationally as an air force to be integrated there is a lot of C2 [command and control] connectivity between different systems, and manning all different staff levels – of course that will take some time. But it is going very well, and according to plan.”