NARRATIVE BY GRAHAM BRIGHT & IMAGES BY MARK ROURKE
Malmen 2016 – Sweden’s 90th Anniversary Airshow, 27th/28th August
Malmen has a long military history dating back to the 1600’s but we fast forward to 1912 when the first military flying school was established on the base. The initial complement of aircraft was 3 and this small number were developed over the course of that year.
In 1926 it served as an Air Force base under the control of F3 wing until that was decommissioned in 1973, the last flying units operated the J35F version of the SAAB Draken. Examples of the Draken can be found across Sweden and the show had a 2-seat version in the flying display, with a single seat variant on show in the Air Force museum at the same location.
Prior to the arrival of the Draken the wing flew the SAAB J29 Tunnen, and there were examples of this aircraft in the flying and static display, as well as the museum.
From 1974 the base fell under the command structure for the F13 wing that flew from Norrkoping although it did not have any of its own assigned flying squadrons, In June 1993 F13 was also decommissioned, and control of the base moved to F16 wing at Uppsala, and this continued until 1998 when full time flying returned as the main base for the Swedish armed forces helicopter units, the Helikopterflottiljen.
In 2003 the Royal Swedish Air School relocated to Malmen flying the Sk 60 SAAB 105 jet trainer.
There are three helicopter types in use today and examples of all of them were seen in both the static, and flying displays, as well as in the servicing exhibitions in the hangar area. Armed forces designations for the fleet are prefixed Hkp (Helikopter) and all the aircraft come under the control of 2.Hkpskv (Helicopter Squadron).
The Hkp 14 is a version of the NHIndustries NH90 medium heavy transport helicopter, the type has not been without its delays on entering service and Sweden ordered 18 to be configured as TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter). In this role the capacity is for 20 troops, although it can also be configured for casualty evacuation (12 stretchers), and to support Special Forces. In Swedish service a small number have been converted to undertake a maritime surveillance role.
The Hkp 15 is the AgustaWestland AW109 LUHS (Light Utility Helicopter System). Sweden operates 2 versions of this aircraft with 12 configured in the land operations role Hkp 15A, and 8 in the anti submarine warfare role (Hkp 15B) where they can be deployed on the Navy’s Visby class corvettes. For ease of recognition the A variant is painted Green, while the B variant is Grey.
The Hkp 16 is the Sikorsky UH60M Blackhawk which is the most modern variant of the helicopter. Sweden has 15 in service with a primary role of medical evacuation (medevac) from combat situations and field hospitals, and a secondary role in the transport of troops and supplies. The Hkp 16 has seen service in Afghanistan where it replaced the Hkp 10 Super Puma.
The show itself showcased the history of aviation in Sweden and brought together static examples from the Air Force Museum store, warbirds, the Air Force Historic flight, as well as a role demonstration from the Helicopter force, and the current fighter asset, the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen.
The role demonstration was along the main runway line and included troops and pyrotechnics as well as the aircraft with the Hkp 15 providing air cover support for the transport element of the Hkp 16, this was without doubt the highlight of the display.
The JAS 39 appeared 3 times, as a solo giving a spirited display to demonstrate the agility of the type, as a formation with the Lockheed Tp 84 C130H Hercules showing the aerial refuelling capability of both types and finally with the Air Force Historic Flight in a formation with the J 29 Tunnen, J 35 Draken, AJSH 37 Viggen and Sk 60 SAAB 105.
It must be noted that the display line at Malmen changes depending on type and the demonstration taking place, anything dynamic uses the cross runway as its display line, which can be frustrating to spectators due the distance away from those watching.
Foreign air force participation was limited to the Finnish Air Force with the McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18C Hornet, the Swiss Air Force with F/A-18C variant, and the Czech Air Force that brought the Mil Mi 35 Hind attack helicopter, and the Aero L159 ALCA which is a light multi role combat aircraft.
Sweden has a rich aviation heritage with types in service that are particular to that country and with a few select export customers. There are many museums and collections that make for an interesting visit over 3 days. As well as the main Air Force museum at Malmen we also visited the small F11 museum at Nykoping and the collection at Vasteras which houses flying examples as well as static displays of aircraft.
A highly recommended trip, and a country we will look forward to visiting again in the future.