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Sweden extends jet trainer use to consider T-X outcome

Sweden is to further extend the operational use of its Saab 105 (SK60) jet trainers until the middle of the next decade, to enable it to consider the Boeing/Saab T-X platform as a potential replacement.

"The Swedish armed forces have developed requirements on an overall level about a new trainer system," the nation's air force says. "In order to find more time and freedom of choice in this ongoing process, SK60 will continue to fly to 2025."

Speaking in Stockholm on 8 May, Col Magnus Liljegren, head of the air force's training and development department, indicated that a US selection of the Boeing/Saab candidate would be of interest to Stockholm. "It [T-X] has all the capabilities that we need," he says. "It's a question of money, and where we can fly it," he adds, referring to the type's use of a GE Aviation F404 engine, which is louder than the SK60's propulsion system.

Liljegren indicates that Stockholm would not be interested in the other candidates pursuing the US Air Force's Northrop T-38 replacement opportunity. "If Saab and Boeing do not win, we will not take the aircraft that the US Air Force will go for, because it wouldn't make sense," he notes. Several other systems are also being considered, he adds, identifying the Pilatus PC-21 turboprop as another potential solution.

Clarifying its position following Liljegren's comments, the Swedish air force says: "At this stage, the Swedish [Defence] Materiel Administration (FMV) will not define which manufacturers may be potential suppliers of a new trainer aircraft. Together, FMV and the Swedish armed forces are developing various trainer system concepts to find a suitable solution that fulfils the Swedish air force demands on future trainer aircraft and that can replace SK60."

The Swedish air force has an inventory of about 50 Saab 105s, about 40 of them operational. Flight Fleets Analyzer shows these as being between 48 and 50 years old. The service had previously outlined an ambition to replace the Volvo Aero RM15-engined type by 2020.

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