Sweden has committed to buying 15 new American-made Black Hawk helicopters to help increase its fleet in Afghanistan.
Final negotiations are ongoing and if all goes well the first of the new machines may be delivered within a year, according to Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors.
The plan is for Swedish pilots begin training on the new helicopter system in the US this summer in readiness for the arrival of the helicopters early next year. This, according to Tolgfors will allow Sweden to increase its military presence in Afghanistan from 2013.
The entire new fleet of Black Hawks will be fully operational by 2017.
By purchasing a proven system, Sweden can reduce its costs and take delivery earlier wrote Tolgfors in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
Although the final cost has not been reported the government has allocated 4.7 billion kronor ($755 million) for new helicopters. The defence minister added that this sum also includes the operation of the system until 2020 and the training of pilots, crew and technicians.
The government is hoping that the purchase of the Black Hawks will provide a long term solution to Sweden's helicopter problems.
They will be hoping for a better solution than the last major acquisition of this kind, the Helicopter 14 [Swedish designation for the NH-90—Ed.], which was supposed to be delivered in 2008 but is not now expected to be fully operational until 2020.