Swiss Air Force looking to buy heavy lift helicopters

The Swiss Army is considering purchasing large helicopters (such as the Boeing Chinook and Sikorsky King Stalion). The Swiss want to broaden the capability of doing peace keeping missions abroad. The Swiss heavy lift helicopters are planned to enter service in the second half of the decade. Part of the purchase is aimed at replacing the ageing Aerospatiale Super Pumas.

Heavy lift Helicopters for peace keeping missions

The Swiss Air Force and Swiss Army heavily rely on their current fleet of Aérospatiale AS332M1 Super Puma, Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar Mk1 and the Eurocopter EC-635 helicopter fleet for logistics, SAR and troop transport. But especially the Super Puma fleet is starting to age and will need replacement in the coming decade. The Swiss government wants to participate in peace keeping missions more in the coming decade. But the current fleet of Éurocopter Cougars and Super Pumas is not fully equipped to fulfil all the requirements for demanding missions abroad. Viola Amherd, Head of the Swiss Federal Defence Department, has indicated that as part of the replacement of the Super Pumas, Switzerland is considering to Swiss heavy lift Helicopters.

Heavy lift helicopters as replacement for ageing Super Pumas

At this moment it is unclear how many helicopters will be procured, but the plan is for them to enter service towards the end of this decade. The Air Force currently has a total 45 helicopters divided over 3 types:

  • Aérospatiale AS332M1 Super Puma (15)

  • Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar Mk1 (10)

  • Eurocopter EC-635 (20)

Swiss Heavy lift helicopter Boeing CH-47 Chinook flying over the Berner Oberland
Swiss Boeing CH-47 Chinook flying over the Berner Oberland. Picture © 2021 Martin Boschhuizen

Chinook or Stallion or…

The new helicopters are intended to replace part of the Super Puma that are all over 30 years old. The longlist of a large helicopter as a replacement is rather however. The only available helicopters in the world are the Boeing CH-47F Chinook and the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion. Both offer formidable capabilities but are also expensive with the Chinook costing USD 100 Million per aircraft and the CH-53K USD 130 Million. Especially considering the fact that the Swiss have shown in the past that procurement of military material is not a simple process, with many Swiss voters being critical of the need of these procurements. Some projects like the acquisition of the Saab Gripen fighter have been cancelled altogether after the Swiss voted against it in a referendum. As a sneak peak of what might be I have included a photo composition of a Swiss Boeing CH-47F Chinook over Axalp in the Berner Oberland.

AXALP Fliegerschiessen 2021 on 20 & 21 October 2021

Axalp Fliegerschiessen 2021, the yearly live shooting event of the Swiss Air Force at the Ebenfluh Shooting Range near Axalp in 2021 will take place later one week later than its usual date this year. The event is planned on Wednesday 20 October 2021 and Thursday 21 October 2021. The training day will take place on Tuesday 19 October 2021. Going with the current communication by the Swiss Army the event is  planned to take place with certain COVID measures in place that are mentioned below.Read More

Schiphol photo exhibition features photo of Martin Boschhuizen

In the recently opened pop-up Schiphol photo exhibition, Martin Boschhuizen features with one of his pictures made in 2015. The exhibition that opened on 12 April 2021 in the E-Pier at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol features photos from a small group of hardcore aviation photographers. I was one of the photographers that was selected to feature a photo in the exhibition. On Friday April 16th I had the pleasure of visiting the exhibition. 

My photo in the exhibition

Schiphol has selected a photo that I took in 2015 of a Martinair MD11  in the snow. At that moment it was taxiing towards the Sierra apron on taxiway Victor after having landed a few minutes earlier as MP1158 from South America on the Polderbaan.

This picture is a good example why I love to take pictures in the Haarlemmermeerpolder. The desolate character of the flatter than flat polder, intersected only by a line of trees that have grown to one side because of the wind.

And then, that MD11 that breaks this abstract scene. Almost ads a human element with her characteristic appearance and cockpit windows. These images often wander around in my head for a long time before everything falls into place. The thin layer of snow only ads to the motive. 

A martinair MD11 taxxiing in the snow at Schiphol

Inspiring travellers to connect with Schiphol

The aim of the exposition is to inspire travellers,according to Schiphol. The photos portray how we -as avgeeks and photographers- experience the airport and aircraft. But also how this connects us with Schiphol.

For me, the exhibition is a beautiful summary of what makes aviation photography so special to me. Enduring wind, rain and cold. Getting up in the middle of the night, planning and persevering. All to get that perfect shot. The exhibition can be enjoyed up until the end of June. 

Relevant links about the Schiphol Photo Exhibition and Martin Boschhuizen

  • News item on the Schiphol Photo Exhibition on here
  • Have a look at more Martin boschhuizen photos over the years here
  • Borader collection of Martinair photos made by Martin Boschhuizen here

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