Maj Gen Micael Bydén, the Swedish air force's new chief of staff, was blunt in his assessment of the service's experience buying its two newest helicopters when he addressed the press on the eve of the Farnborough show.
Of the NH90 tactical transport helicopter, he said: "We are not very happy with the outcome of this helicopter. It should have been operational in 2007, but it started to operate in 2011. It will be a very capable helicopter, but it will take a few years."
Credit: NH Industries
The air force has four NH90s "basic" versions, but these are due to be returned to NH Industries in France as Sweden begins to take delivery of the "international mission" version of the helicopters, the first of which is due in January 2013.
The basic version is VFR only, with no tactical equipment or deicing system. The international version, equipped for peacekeeping missions, is "not the one we bought in the beginning," says Bydén, Sweden purchased 18 NH90s, including five maritime versions for later delivery.
On the UH-60M, 15 of which were purchased urgently in 2011 to replace Super Pumas used in Afghanistan, Bydén described the 100 weeks that will elapse from contract signature to first delivery "remarkable". The Black Hawks will delivered beginning in April 2013 (corrected, see comments).
The two Super Pumas now in Afghanistan are being used for tactical medevac of injured personnel who have already received initial medical treatment. Once the Black Hawks arrive in theater, the Swedish air force plans to do more forward medevac, the chief of staff said.