Posted 7 ноября 2022,, 12:34

Published 7 ноября 2022,, 12:34

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Security at stake: Sweden enters arms race for the first time in hundreds of years

7 ноября 2022, 12:34
At the very beginning of the year, the Swedish government asked the commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces to prepare a report on what changes should be made to the plans for the construction of the army, air force and navy from 2024 to 2035 in order to meet the emerging threats.

The other day, Mikael Buden made public the answer.

Alexander Sychev

Russia remains the main factor that, in the opinion of the military, the armed forces will have to respond to. Well, there's nothing new here. The Swedish military consider our country their main enemy since the defeat of King Charles XII near Poltava. True, they, of course, do not mention past affairs in the guiding document. But they remembered Ukraine, the events in which allegedly testify to the growing and inevitable threat to Stockholm.

But the main leitmotif in the report, nevertheless, was the expected entry of Sweden into the North Atlantic Alliance. This topic does not leave the lips of Swedish politicians, who generously distribute expensive advances to their future partners. The new Conservative prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, who took over Sweden a few weeks ago, outdid everyone during a recent visit to Finland. From excessive zeal, he even hinted that he did not exclude the possibility of placing US atomic weapons on the territory of the country.

Thus, Stockholm is ready to betray the next main element of the country's longstanding policy, which all Swedish governments have adhered to since 1970, by ratifying the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The previous social democratic government betrayed the country's non-participation in military alliances by applying in May to join NATO. But then Stockholm made the agreement of the future allies with "a unilateral reservation against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on the territory of Sweden" a condition for entry.

New authorities, new preferences, leading to serious new risks that the Swedes are not told about. At one time, the Swedish government abandoned its own, already practically created nuclear weapons, believing that it would not strengthen the country's security, but, on the contrary, would contribute to the country's involvement in an armed conflict in Europe and a preemptive strike from the Soviet Union. Today, this conclusion of the Swedish politicians of the 1970s is being revised and thus put the country in the first row of threats to Russia's security.

However, in the report of Commander-in-Chief Buden, the atomic dreams of the new Swedish coalition government have not yet been reflected. They were left out of the brackets until the country was admitted to NATO membership. In the meantime, it is proposed to strengthen the armed forces, which today number about 30,000 servicemen, and link them to NATO.

The most significant changes await the naval forces. In particular, the commander-in-chief proposes to build heavy corvettes that should become larger than the current Visby class, have more powerful weapons and be adapted to work as part of permanent NATO maritime groups and increase their number from the current seven to eleven. New corvettes should receive more long-range air defense systems. It will also allow them to merge into the bloc's Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD).

Similarly, when designing new minesweepers, which should replace the current ships of the Koster and Spårö classes after 2035, the requirement for coherence with NATO's permanent mine action teams will be taken into account. The Swedish military proposes to increase the number of minesweepers and minelayers in order to be able to block the Russian Baltic fleet.

The military also proposes to strengthen the Swedish submarine fleet. Currently, two submarines of the A26 Blekinge class are being completed at the shipyards of SAAB-Kockums. They were supposed to be handed over to the Navy this year, but due to a quarrel with the German owners and the procedure for returning the company to Swedish ownership, the deadlines have shifted somewhat.

These subs are equipped with a Stirling air-independent propulsion system and GHOST (Genuine HOlistic STealth) technology, making them extremely quiet. The term of autonomous navigation has been brought up to 45 days, and the working depth - up to 200 meters. The new submarine will even be able to go to the ocean. The main armament is torpedoes. The A26 Blekinge can withstand significant shock loads from underwater explosions and can launch and take on board vehicles through torpedo tubes.

It looks like now this series will be limited to two boats. Now the military wants to replace the current Gotland-class boats with submarines designated in secret documents as Ubåt-2030 (“Submarine - 2030”). Nothing is known about it yet, but it can be assumed that the ability to launch the American Tomahawk cruise missiles, provided for on the export version of the A26 Blekinge in the amount of 18 pieces, will become a standard option on the new submarine.

By 2034, it is also proposed to replace the submarine rescue ship HSwMS Belos, launched in 1985 at the Dutch shipyard De Hoop, and the Underwater Rescue Vessel (URF) based on it.

The currently operated URF free-floating vehicles were built back in the 70s. The robust hull of the mini-submarine has three pressurized hulls, as well as a rescue "skirt", which allows you to connect to the emergency hatch of the sunken submarine and evacuate the entire crew, 35 divers, in one flight. New rescue vessels, of course, must also be adapted to work with the submarines of future allies.

The changes will affect the Marine Corps. The creation of a second battery of anti-ship missiles, as well as two additional companies of marines, is on the wish lists. For them, starting in 2024, it is proposed to purchase a new class of landing craft that will replace the current CB-90H, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles for various purposes and additional anti-aircraft systems.

In aviation, the Swedish military intends to decommission the current maritime helicopters, including the light AW109, which was used for reconnaissance and the transfer of military personnel from ship to shore, as well as the NH90. Currently, the Swedish Air Force operates nine NH90 helicopters in the HKP-14F variant - it was created specifically for the Swedes. It differs from other helicopters of this model by the presence of a radar for observing the sea and a submersible sonar. The military intends to replace this helicopter with another American rotary-wing machine MH-60R Seahawk in the same quantity. But for AW109 replacement is not provided.