The Swedish air force is likely to field a replacement for its aged Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports at some point during the next decade, with potential candidates including the Embraer KC-390 and Airbus A400M.
Later this year, the air force will mark the 50th anniversary of its introduction of the Hercules, with its active fleet now including five transports and one KC-130H tanker. Two other aircraft have already been retired and are in storage in the UK, and the service could in time decide to reduce its operational fleet to only four examples, says chief of staff Col Marcus Björkgren.
“Marshall Aerospace did an assessment, and they are in very good shape,” he says of the remaining examples.
Sweden’s recently published defence bill for the 2016-2020 period identifies the need to address the C-130H replacement issue only post-2021. The nation’s air force has already shown interest in Embraer’s developmental KC-390 transport and tanker (above), and Björkgren says that it could also investigate the potential acquisition of the A400M (below). Several of the latter model are likely to become available early next decade, as Germany and Spain have said they will not be able to fully field their on-order fleets.
“We definitely have to do something about it,” says Björkgren of the tactical airlift requirement, which he describes as having been a “stop and go” process over the last several years.
Stockholm had signed up to put its Hercules through the US Air Force’s C-130 avionics modernisation programme with Boeing, but this was cancelled by the Department of Defense. Another initiative looked at whether a pooling and sharing agreement could be established with Denmark and Norway, both of which operate the new-generation C-130J, but no decision was reached on whether to buy the same type.