Published on August 31st, 2018 | by Gabriel Desmond


Swedish Military Flying Day

Sweden’s military or Försvarsmaktens held their 2018 Flying Day at Uppsala near Stockholm, attracting a huge crowd. It presented a rare opportunity to see Sweden’s unique military aviation capability and heritage.

The aircraft displayed at Uppsala were  current or historic Swedish AF types, with the exception from neighbouring countries Denmark and Finland of an F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-18 Hornet respectively. Both were former export customers for the Saab J 35 Draken.


Sweden’s own transports are a fleet of ageing C-130H Hercules, in light grey. One was on static display while another dropped parachute troops from altitude before descending for a low level drop of cargo pallets by parachute from the rear door. It then landed and reversed off the runway while more troops appeared from nowhere and ran up the rear ramp before it quickly departed on a fast low-level take off to avoid “hostile” fire. In Sweden the Hercules in known as Type 84.

The helicopter fleet has been modernised and now forms a combined unit serving the Army, Navy and Air Force. The smallest helicopter is the  AW109 or Helicopter (type) 15, in classic Swedish green “splinter” camouflage, for Army support including the use of side-mounted machine guns.

Four Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters flew a prolonged 4-ship formation routine. Two later flew in a troop support role while taking part in a tactical rescue demo with helicopters.  In recent years neutral Sweden’s military procedures and equipment are NATO compatible.

Helikopter 14 is the NH90. Sweden decided the headroom of the original cabin layout was inadequate.  A re-design resulted in a valuable extra 24cm of height.  A static example in light grey was kitted for the anti-submarine role but could be re-configured as a transport in six hours!

Since WW2 neutral Sweden remained outside NATO and developed its own series of Saab fighter jets and military technology to counter the Soviet threat which was on its very doorstep. The Swedish Air Force Historic Flight, SwAFHF, preserve and fly all the Saab jet fighter designs built since the 1950’s.

The SwAFHF has two Viggens, one a bare-metal AJS 37 which combined the roles of earlier separate versions for fighter, ground attack, anti shipping and reconnaissance. Their other Viggen, in splinter camouflage, was the SK37 or two seat trainer version.  Design features novel for the time were the big canard foreplanes ahead of the delta wing,  rear engine thrust reversers for braking, narrow tandem pairs of mainwheels to facilitate taxying in snow – even on roads used as wartime runways – and downward folding tail fin to facilitate hangaring in underground caverns.

Some Saab 105 side-by-side jet trainers built between 1963 and 1972  are still in use as Type Sk60. Six aircraft display as Team 60 with “Flygvapnet” meaning Air Force painted on the olive topside while the underside is decorated in light blue and yellow, Sweden’s national colours. In former years they regularly appeared at air shows across Europe but rarely now so they were a welcome sight at Uppsala. Interestingly, this jet trainer could seat four persons, with two extra seats behind the student and instructor seats in front.

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About the Author

Cork based Gabriel Desmond has been documenting aviation in Ireland and around the world for over 50 years. A regular contributor to Flying in Ireland, his photographs and articles have been used in a wide range of aviation publications as well as news and corporate media

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