The Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Wing will assist the Swedish National Police with medium-heavy helicopter support, according to a new assignment from the Swedish Government. The money to establish the cooperation will be provided in the autumn budget, according to the Armed Forces. The operation will be implemented gradually, starting from 1 January 2014.
The military support will strengthen the police’s capacities and it will act as a supplement to the police’s own helicopter unit. The Swedish Police Wing is operating six Eurocopter EC 135P2s throughout the country, and the unit is currently in the process of exchanging the EC135s with seven new helicopters though a public tender.
In a recent visit to the Armed Forces Helicopter Wing’s main base in Malmen, Linköping, Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask and Defence Minister Karin Enström met up with the military helicopter organization and got a closer look at the aircraft inventory.
The need for medium-heavy helicopters can sometimes be crucial in order for the Swedish Police, and especially the National Task Force, to be scrambled and deployed as fast as possible following serious occurrences. One evident example is the Norwegian terrorist attacks on the island of Utøya back in July 2011.
“Exactly what kind of operations [this cooperation will cover] is hard to say now, before the Armed Forces and the police have discussed and agreed on how the support should be designed. There are many practical issues to consider in the beginning”, said Beatrice Ask.
Karin Enström, stressed that the Armed Forces are already supporting the police if necessary. For example, when US President Obama visited Sweden recently, the Helicopter Wing had two HKP16 Black Hawks in a 24-hour alert at Bromma Airport in Stockholm. The new contract means that the task becomes clearer for both the police and the Armed Forces.
The military says that in case the task requires armed intervention, this will be fully up to the police. The helicopter’s role is solely to transport the police and its associated equipment, and to make sure that they arrive as close to a mission area or an object as possible. The gradual implementation of the partnership will be started through the development of standardized procedures and routines in the first year, and the units will focus in daytime exercises to start with. This will eventually transition into nighttime exercises as well.
“We have the helicopters and we have the experience, both from Sweden and from our mission in Afghanistan, so we are very well suited for the task” said the deputy Head of the Helicopter Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Ulf Landgren. “We are already supporting the community with other helicopter aids, for example transporting personnel and equipment, fighting fires and searching for missing people”
Ulf Landgren informed the ministers that the task will require more resources, particularly in terms of staff due to the many vacancies in the helicopter organization. It also requires advance planning as it takes several years to train the helicopter pilots, mission specialists and technicians that will be needed. But the military says that the Helicopter Wing is positive to be able to support the police with helicopter resources in the future.
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