Sweden ‘should join Nato plane pool’

Sweden should join Nato's pool of military transport capacity, instead of buying two American aircraft at a cost of 2 billion kronor each, foreign minister Carl Bildt has said.

“It makes better financial sense for us,” he said. Speaking to Swedish Radio, the foreign minister said that the move was one way in which Sweden could deepen its relationship with the North Atlantic alliance.

A decision needs to be taken urgently on new transport planes for the Swedish Air Force. Transport for Sweden’s contribution to the EU Rapid Reaction Force needs to be in place by 2008.

Many in the armed forces want to buy Boeing C-17 Globemasters – giant, four-engined planes that can carry four times as much as Sweden’s current fleet of eight aging Hercules.

The decision proved controversial for the previous, Social Democratic government, with its partners in the Left and Green parties largely opposed to any move to replace the Hercules.