Military Wiki
Swedish Air Force
Flygvapnet vapen bra.svg
Coat of arms of the Swedish Air Force.
Founded July 1, 1926
Country Sweden
Allegiance HM King Carl XVI Gustaf
Part of Swedish Armed Forces
Engagements Winter War[1]
Congo Crisis
Afghanistan War
2011 military intervention in Libya
Major General Anders Silwer
Roundels Flygvapnet-Lowvis roundel.svg Flygvapnet roundel.svg
Fin flash Fin Flash
Aircraft flown
S 102B Korpen, S 100 Argus
Fighter Saab JAS 39 Gripen
Helicopter Super Puma, A109, NH90, UH-60M
Trainer Saab 105
Transport C-130 Hercules, Saab 340, Gulfstream IV

The Swedish Air Force (Swedish: Flygvapnet) is the air force branch of the Swedish Armed Forces.


The Swedish Air Force was created on July 1, 1926 when the aircraft units of the Army and Navy were merged. Because of the escalating international tension during the 1930s the Air Force was reorganized and expanded from four to seven squadrons. When World War II broke out in 1939 further expansion was initiated and this substantial expansion was not finished until the end of the war. Although Sweden never entered the war, a large air force was considered necessary to ward off the threat of invasion and to resist pressure through military threats from the great powers. By 1945 the Swedish Air Force had over 800 combat-ready aircraft, including 15 fighter divisions.

A major problem for the Swedish Air Force during World War II was the lack of fuel. Sweden was surrounded by countries at war and could not rely on imported oil. Instead domestic oil shales were heated to produce the needed petrol.

Expansion during the Cold War

DH.98 Mosquito NF.19 night fighter of the Swedish Air Force in 1949

Swedish Air Force P-51D on display at Swedish Air Force Museum

The Swedish Air Force underwent a rapid modernization from 1945. It was no longer politically acceptable to equip it with second-rate models. Instead, the air staff purchased the best it could find from abroad, e.g. P-51D Mustangs, De Havilland Mosquito NF.19 night fighters and de Havilland Vampires, and supported the development of top performance domestic models. When the Saab 29 Tunnan fighter was introduced around 1950, Sweden suddenly had planes that were equal to the best of the Royal Air Force, the Soviet Union's VVS, and the U.S. Air Force.

During the 1950s the air force started to build road bases after an idea taken from Germany. Built under the BASE 60 distributed airfield scheme,[2] the bases were ordinary highways constructed in such a way that they could also serve as landing strips. In the early eighties road number 44 was rebuilt to contain four short runways (17 x 800 metres). Along the road a large number of turn-around-sites for rearming and refueling were built. These short runways are still used today for training, landing and taking off with Gripen and Hercules as preparation for international operations under adverse conditions.[3]

During the Cold War large amounts of money (including all that had been reserved for Swedish nuclear weapons) were spent on the Swedish Air Force and domestic airplane production. In 1957 Sweden had the world's fourth most powerful air force, [4] with about 1000 modern planes in front-line service.[5] During the 1950s, it introduced fighters such as the Saab J 29 Tunnan, Saab A 32 Lansen and Saab J 35 Draken.

War service

The Swedish Air Force has fought in three wars[citation needed], the Finno-Soviet Winter War in 1939–40[citation needed], in the Congo Crisis, 1961–64, and in the 2011 Libyan civil war.

Finland 1940

When the Soviet Union attacked Finland in November 1939, Sweden came to its neighbour's assistance in most ways short of joining the war outright. A Swedish volunteer infantry brigade and a volunteer air squadron fought in northern Finland in January till March 1940. The squadron was designated F 19 and consisted of 12 Gloster Gladiator fighters and four Hawker Hart dive-bombers.

Congo 1961–1964

The Swedish Air Force saw combat as part of the United Nations peace-keeping mission ONUC during the Congo Crisis in 1961 to 1964. It established a separate air wing, F 22, equipped with a dozen semi-obsolete Saab 29 Tunnans, which performed well under the rugged conditions in central Africa. The secessionist adversaries possessed only a small number of aircraft with poor combat capabilities, e.g. Fouga Magister trainers.

1990s – restructuring

The end of the Cold War saw the Swedish Armed Forces undergo a massive restructuring process. During that time, several air bases were deemed unnecessary and closed. In 1994 the air force had over 400 fighters, by 2005 the number had sunk to fewer than 150.

Libya 2011

On March 29, 2011, the Swedish prime minister announced that eight Saab JAS 39 Gripens would be deployed to support the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.[6] The announcement was made in response to a request by NATO for assistance. The Swedish fighters were limited to supporting the no-fly zone and were not authorized to engage in ground attack sorties. The deployment was approved by the Swedish Riksdag on April 1, 2011 and the first jets departed for Libya on April 2. Accompanying the fighters was a C-130 Hercules for mid-air refueling.[7]


The Swedish Air Force is today being adapted to new future tasks. With the collapse of the only military threat, the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, budget cuts have been made in the Swedish armed forces. The Swedish government have also decided to cut back on the Air Force and its fighters. Of the now 130 fighter planes in service about 100 will form the future Swedish Air Force. Some orders have been made on the helicopter side and about 40 new units will join the air force in the next coming years. Saab AB has also joined the primarily French project for the unmanned future stealth plane Dassault nEUROn.

In 2008 as well in 2010 the Swedish armed forces wanted to retire even more fighters and close air-bases to relocate money to other branches. However, because of negative response from the public and pressure from the Swedish government, no cuts have so far been made.[8][9][10][11]

Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors responded to the Russian purchase of Mistral-class amphibious assault ships by saying that the Swedish Air Force would need "sea targeting capabilities".[12]

In 2013 the USMC introduced Swedish helicopter units to the Forward air control airborne mission for better air-ground coordination.[13]

Aircraft inventory

JAS 39 Gripen.

AEW&C Saab 340AEW

A Swedish C-130 Hercules

Hkp 14 (NHIndustries NH90)

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[14] Notes
Saab JAS 39 Gripen  Sweden Fighter
0(60 on order)[15]
Of 204 Gripen ordered 130 remain in service with at least 60 to be upgraded to the E/F standard starting from 2018.[16]
Saab S 100B Argus  Sweden Transport
TP 100
FSR 890
ASC 890
TP 100 C used for Open Skies
Saab 105  Sweden Basic jet-trainer SK 60 80 (35 in flying condition)[17] Maintained by Saab and owned by the Swedish government[18]
Gulfstream G-IV SP United States SIGINT
S 102 B
TP 102
Gulfstream G550 United States VIP TP 102 D 1
Lockheed C-130E/H Hercules United States Transport TP 84[14] 7
Aerial refueling
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III United States Transport C-17A[19] Shared within NATO's Heavy Airlift Wing and based at Pápa Air Base, Hungary. Sweden has access to 550 flight hours per year.[19]
Eurocopter AS 332 Super Puma  France Transport helicopter
Hkp 10[14]
Hkp 10B[20]
Hkp 10D[21]
Three Hkp 10B were sent in 2011 to support troops in Afghanistan.[20]
NHI NH90  European Union Transport helicopter Hkp 14[14] 4[22] 18 on order. Has been delayed and will not be operational until 2017.[23]
Agusta A109  Italy Transport helicopter Hkp 15[14] 20 Eight of these are specially designed for operations at sea.[24]
Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk  United States Transport helicopter Hkp 16[25] 15
Elbit Skylark  Israel UAV SAUV Falken (Falcon)[26]
AAI RQ-7 Shadow United States UAV AUV 03 Örnen (Eagle) [27]
Skeldar  Sweden UAV



Fighter units

There are three wings of fighters:

  • Skaraborg Air Force Wing (F 7 Såtenäs)
    • Located at Såtenäs outside Lidköping, operates JAS 39A/B, which are to be replaced by JAS 39C/D in 2013.[28]
  • Blekinge Air Force Wing (F 17 Kallinge)
    • Located at Kallinge in Ronneby, operates JAS 39C/D.
  • Norrbotten Air Force Wing (F 21 Luleå)
    • Located at Kallax in Luleå, operates JAS 39C/D.

Helicopter units

A Swedish Hkp 4 during the "Swedish Battle Camp 2006" event.

The aviation units that were formerly under the Swedish Army ("Arméflyget") and the Swedish Navy ("Marinflyget") have been merged with the helicopter units of the Air Force to form the single Helicopter Wing (Helikopterflottiljen, abbreviated Hkpflj) for the entire Armed Forces. The wing has been placed under the authority of the Air Force and consists of:

  • 1st Helicopter Squadron (1 Helikopterskvadronen, abbreviated 1 Hkpskv)
    • Kallax in Luleå (co-located with F 21), operates Hkp 10.
  • 2nd Helicopter Squadron (2 Helikopterskvadronen, abbreviated 2 Hkpskv)
    • Malmen in Linköping, operates Hkp 14, Hkp 15 and Hkp 16.
  • 3rd Helicopter Squadron (3 Helikopterskvadronen, abbreviated 3 Hkpskv)
    • Kallinge in Ronneby (co-located with F 17), operates Hkp 10 and Hkp 15.
    • Såtenäs (co-located with F 7), operates Hkp 10.


Graph showing the plane models that entered service in the Swedish Air Force from 1960–2010

The Air Force is currently deploying the Saab Gripen for service. Gripen, designated JAS 39 Gripen—the designation JAS stands for Jakt (Air-to-Air), Attack (Air-to-Surface) and Spaning (Reconnaissance), and means every Gripen can fulfill all three mission types—is a modern multi-role fighter designed to replace Draken and Viggen. Capabilities of Gripen include a short runway requirement, advanced data link equipment, and canard delta design with lateral instability and fly-by-wire.[29]

Sweden originally ordered 204 Gripen aircraft. Out of these 134 remain in service in the Air Force today and an additional 28 are leased to the Czech and Hungarian Air Force (14 each), with an option to acquire them when the lease period expires. Furthermore, 12 aircraft were sold to the Royal Thai Air Force.[30]

Saab 37 Viggen (1972–2005)

Saab 35 Draken (1960–1999)

Saab 29 Tunnan (1950-1976)

See also



  1. "I luftstrid över Lappland" (in Swedish). Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliotek. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  2. Martin, Guy (2005-2009). "The Draken: One of Sweden's finest fighters". Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  3. "Viggen Showcase – Grästorp, Sweden". Saab History. 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  4. "The growth of the Air Force – Flygvapenmuseum". 2010-05-01. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  6. Press, Associated (29 March 2011). "Sweden plans to join Libya no-fly zone with fighter jets, but no ground attacks". Archived from the original on 2 April 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  7. "Swedish Gripen Planes Headed to Libya". 2 April 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  8. (Swedish)
  10. - 404 sidan kan ej visas
  11. TT (2010-03-06). "Försvaret föreslår nya nedläggningar" (in sv). Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  12. "Sweden may change its defense forces to counter Russia's Mistral purchase."
  13. "MWATS-1 Marines introduce FAC(A) to Swedish Air Force."
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4
  17. "Försvarets materielverk - Historiskt avtal ger besparingar för försvaret". 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  18. "Försvarets materielverk - Flygunderhåll i privat regi". 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 [1]
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Försvarets materielverk – Modifierad helikopter redo för Afghanistan". 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  21. HKP 10D
  22. "På plats för första, men inte sista, gången" (in sv). 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  23. Tweet Stockholm TT. "Utredare: Köp nya helikoptrar | Inrikes | SvD" (in sv). Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  24. "Helikopter 15" (in sv). Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  25. "Nyhetsbrev 23 mars 2011" (in sv). 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  26. SAUV Falken
  27. AUV 03 Örnen
  28. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 
  29. "World Air Forces 2013"., 11 December 2012.
  30. "Gripen Operational in the Royal Thai Air Force". 8 July 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 

External links

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