In September 2010, required DSCA arms sale notifications announced a possible Swedish buy of up to 15 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, plus side items like engines, defensive systems, and support, for up to $546 million. Their mission? Combat Search And Rescue & MEDEVAC missions in Afghanistan, under a Swedish program worth over $750 million all told.
The announcement was surprising, because Sweden already flies the UH-60M’s main competitor – NHI’s NH90 TTH. Sweden’s 13 machines were even ordered in a “high cabin” configuration that’s especially well suited to combat search and rescue and MEDEVAC operations, and Eurocopter had unveiled a German NH90-TTH MEDEVAC kit on June 4/10. On the other hand, the NH90 was plagued by slow deliveries, and slower certification and acceptance. Was the interest serious, or was it just a shot across NHI’s bow? In May 2011, the verdict came in: Sweden was serious. With full operational capability for their NH90s delayed to 2020, Sweden bought the Black Hawks – and swiftly deployed them.