August 30, 2000
The Swedish Air Force is leading that nation toward a new smaller military with higher quality training and equipment. Some current programs include:
1. Reduce the number of fighter squadrons from six to five. The third of these to convert to Gryphons will be officially commissioned in September, and the fourth will begin converting to Gryphon in October.
2. Reduce the number of interceptor, recon, and attack squadrons from 13 to eight.
3. Increase the number of transport squadrons from one to three to provide a capability to deploy air expeditions abroad.
4. Fighter squadrons, which now have 16 pilots, will be increased to 21 to provide increased operational tempo. (The Air Force currently has 85 of the new Gryphon fighters but has only 60 qualified pilots. Another 28 pilots will complete Gryphon training in a few weeks.)
5. Two-seat Viggen fighters will be modified to provide jammer aircraft.
6. The Swedes are shopping for a precision strike capability and an advanced recon pod.
7. The Swedes plan to convert one of their C-130s into an aerial tanker. This will not provide any operational capability, but will only be used to train pilots for aerial refueling. This will ensure that Sweden's planes can interoperate with NATO air forces.
8. The Air Force is now offering wages competitive to industry in order to keep technically qualified officers in uniform.--Stephen V Cole