PARIS — After much delay, Sweden is due to receive its first NH90 helicopter for anti-submarine warfare this autumn, with final operating capability achieved within three to five years thanks to a full delivery of five aircraft, an official said at the Paris Air Show.
"We have not been pleased with this program, it is very late," said Swedish procurement chief Lena Erixon. "With what is happening in the Baltic, it is very important," she added.
An unidentified submarine, possibly Russian, was spotted in the Stockholm archipelago in October last year, in violation of Swedish territory.
The new ASW NH90, part of a larger order of 18 of the helicopters by Sweden, will be equipped with a new light torpedo, which will also equip Swedish submarines, said Erixon, who was speaking at the Swedish Air Force fan club event in Paris on the eve of the Paris Air Show.
Swedish air chief Maj. Gen. Micael Bydén, who gave a speech at the event, also complained about the technical problems that which have held up the ASW aircraft built by European consortium NH Industries. "It was meant to be a turnkey program in 2007, but is still under development," he said. "I have lost confidence."
Saab has been involved in the integration of systems on the SAW NH90, but Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe said the firm was not to blame. "I am convinced we have done our part," he said.
Discussing future Swedish Air Force plans to replace its C-130s, Bydén said the Embraer KC-390 was a "definite alternative if it develops the way it has been described."
Turning to Sweden's future pilot training needs, Bydén said he had no real interest in picking a new jet trainer to replace Sweden's aging Saab 105s.
"It's not about the platform," he said. "The pedagogics have nothing to do with the platform. I am interested in the training environment from start to finish. After two years on the 105, which is pretty analogue, my pilots do pretty well."