In 2021, the Australian Ministry of Defense announced its intention to phase out the 47 NH-90 helicopters [ou MRH-90 ‘Taipan’], acquired by the European consortium NHIndustries, of which Airbus Helicopters is a part. And this to replace them with American models, in this case MH-60R [pour la Royal Australian Navy] and UH-60M Black Hawks [pour l’Australian Army]. One of the reasons given for such a decision was the repeated lack of availability of these devices.
Then, last June, faced with the same problem, Norway made a radical decision. In fact, the Norwegian General Staff announced its intention to return its 14 NH-90s to the manufacturer and seek reimbursement. And that from now on.
“We have tried several times to solve the problems with the NH90 in cooperation with NHI, but more than 20 years after signing the contract, we still have not bought helicopters that can fulfill the missions for which they were developed without NHI giving us realistic solutions can present,” lamented Gro Jære, director of Forsvarmaterial [FMA, l’équivalent norvégien de la DGA française, ndlr].
Member of the European Union [UE], close to joining NATO, Sweden also plans to divest the 18 NH-90s currently in service with its armed forces. Indeed, this is suggested by the new defense plans released on November 1st by General Micael Byden, Chief of Staff of the Swedish Armed Forces.
In contrast to Norway, there is talk of gradually withdrawing the NH-90 from service between 2024 and 2030. At the same time, a procedure for the acquisition of a new type of aircraft is to be initiated [des MH-60R américains?] for anti-submarine warfare [ASM] and other UH-60M Black Hawks for the “Försvarsmaktens Helikopterflottilj”.
As a reminder, the Swedish Armed Forces use two versions of the NH-90: the Hkp14E for transport and SAR missions. [recherche et sauvetage] and the Hkp14F for anti-submarine warfare. Compared to other models, these planes have the particularity of having an elevated cabin.
It should be noted that the delay in the delivery of the thirteen Hkp14E to the Swedish Land Forces had justified the ordering of fifteen UH-60 Black Hawks to carry out MEDEVAC missions in Afghanistan… As for the five Hkp14E, they began operating in 2015 .
More generally, Sweden’s chief of staff advocates an increased budgetary effort to develop the country’s military capabilities, particularly given its accession to NATO. It is therefore a question of strengthening both the surface fleet and air defense, equipping the land forces with long-range artillery systems and more drones, or even building a “national capacity for launching satellites” and “interoperable command systems”.
These proposals must be approved by the Swedish government, now led by conservative Ulf Kristersson, and by parliament [Riksdag]. Additionally, General Byden estimated that the country’s military spending should reach 2% of GDP in 2026, two years earlier than expected. “Inflation, rising interest rates and a weak currency make shopping abroad even more expensive,” he said.