SAAB will modernize the entire Swedish air defense for approximately $250M

STOCKHOLM, (BM) – Swedish Government awarded SAAB a contract to modernize Sweden’s air defense, learned citing Defence24. It includes the acquisition of new radars and improved existing ones, strengthening the command and control capabilities of air defense, including in cooperation with Patriot sets.

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The contract value is SEK 2.1 billion [approximately $250 million], and SAAB will complete the works by 2025. Swedish air defense units will receive new Giraffe 4A radars, and the company will modernize existing AMB stations.

New command and control elements will be implemented, supporting integration and cooperation within air defense squadrons. All this is to enable more effective use of the new generation Swedish air defense systems, i.e., Rb 98 [IRIS-T SLS short-range set], which is already in use in Sweden Rb 103, i.e., the Patriot in the PAC-3 + version ordered in 2018 / PDB-8.

Cooperation with the latter is possible using the Link 16 data exchange system and the JREAP-C protocol. In practice, Swedish radars will be used for early warning, and Patriot battery radars will direct the Rb 103 system’s fire. The radar stations acquired under the contract, to be used by the Swedes, will have antennas at different heights, which will enable more effective combat against low-flying targets such as cruise missiles. The command system will also maintain interoperability with the existing elements of air defense.

Sweden is aggressively increasing its military budget by investing in everything

The Swedish authorities decided to step-by-step reinforcement of defense capabilities. By 2025, the amount spent on the military is to increase by as much as 85 percent. compared to 2014. More units will be reconstructed, and civil defense will be developed at the same time, as we reported in October this year.

The Swedish Ministry of Defense presented a proposal for programming and financing the development of the armed forces in the 2021-2025 perspective. It is assumed that the budget will be increased annually by a minimum of US $ 550 million, and a total of $7 billion annually compared to this year. In 2021, the budget is to amount to USD 17 billion, and in 2025 – about USD 24 billion.

According to the Swedes, within five years this should mean an increase in annual expenditure by over 40% compared to the current year and by as much as 85 percent. [in constant prices, i.e. after taking into account inflation] compared to 2014. According to SIPRI in Stockholm, Sweden spent slightly less than $11.6 billion in nominal terms on defense in 2014, and in 2019 it was $14.4 billion.

Thus, it can be seen that the dynamics of growth in defense spending will accelerate significantly. And this despite the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to forecasts by the European Commission, Sweden’s GDP is to decrease this year by 5.3 percent [in 2019, it increased by 1.2%] and in 2021 a rebound is expected – and an increase of 3.1%.

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Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said directly that an attack on this country cannot be ruled out, and the dynamics of the increase in defense involvement is the highest in 70 years. The documents mention the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation as the main source of the threat. The budget increase is the result of an agreement between the left-wing government (Social Democrats and Greens) and opposition parties (centrists and liberals) to push for more defense spending than originally proposed.

Such a significant increase in defense spending will allow the Swedes to take a number of steps to strengthen their own armed forces. It is expected, inter alia, commencement of the formation of the third mechanized brigade, as well as the creation [or rather re-creation] of a light motorized brigade, responsible for covering the Stockholm region. Analytical work will begin on the introduction of the successor to the Strv 122 tanks [modified Leopard 2A5] and the CV-90 IFV to bring the new equipment into service after 2030.

The ongoing process of restoring the division level in the land forces will also be implemented. Potential enhancement in Gotland will be continued, including by deploying artillery and air defense units there.

As for the latter, in line with the earlier plan, capacity building is to be continued through deliveries of the Patriot and IRIS-T SLS systems. However, at least some of the older sets [probably the RBS 70 very short range systems] will not be permanently withdrawn, but transferred to reserve units.

The number of armed forces “in the military organization” is to increase from the current 60,000 up to 90 thousand [including reserves], which will be achieved, among others, by thanks to increasing the number of conscripts to 8,000 annually [in 2019 it was 4,000]. The units of the National Guard, i.e. territorial defense, will also be modernized.

It is planned to recreate several regiments of ground forces [including artillery units, with Archer howitzers, thanks to which all 48 guns will be in line service] and an air wing. The Swedes emphasize that in order to maintain the tactical aviation potential at an appropriate level, JAS-39C / D Gripen fighters [next to the newly introduced JAS-39E] are to continue service, it is assumed that six fighter squadrons will retain their combat capability. New long-range firearms will be acquired, both air-to-air [probably Meteor] and air-to-ground. The system is to be maintained all the time, allowing the dispersion of aviation activities in the bases [using road sections of the airport].

The main task of the navy will be to prepare for an attack in the Baltic Sea region. For this purpose, The target number of submarines will be increased – from four to five [by keeping the third Gotland / A19 unit in service]. Two new Blekinge class ships will replace the remaining A17 class ships after delivery. It was assumed that decisions on the acquisition of the A19 successor should be made by 2025 at the latest.

The document emphasizes that the decision on the purchase of new units can, however, be made only after the delivery of both Blekinge (A26) ships. This means a delay in the program, the original schedule of which assumed deliveries until 2024. The date of receipt of the latter has not been clearly specified, however, it can be seen that only the finalization of the A26 program in progress will be the basis for further steps.

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Visby corvettes will be modernized, incl. by enhancing their air defense capabilities. The maritime infantry units [amphibious], subordinated to the navy, will also be strengthened. It is planned to form one additional battalion of marines in the Gothenburg region in the west of Sweden, as well as to provide amphibious subunits with direct air defense systems.

The navy will also maintain the ability to hit targets with land-based missiles, and a new coastal missile system will be purchased to replace the one currently in use, to be introduced in 2026-2030. At the same time, the first surface ships of the new type will also be introduced, replacing the Gavle-class corvettes.

Sweden also intends to invest in civil defense. In 2025, 4.2 billion crowns will be allocated for this purpose. In the press release, the Ministry of Defense emphasizes that in times of emergency it is necessary to maintain the functioning of the health service, as well as water and food supplies, communications, transport and the energy sector, as well as the appropriate preparation of the financial industry.

Sweden’s extensive plan to develop defense capabilities is part of a series of actions undertaken by the countries of the Baltic Sea region in the light of the potential threat posed by Russia. Defense spending is to be significantly increased, despite the economic problems caused by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as is happening in Finland and Estonia.

Also noteworthy is the great emphasis placed on the capabilities of conventional land forces and layered air defense. Increasing defense spending allows to raise their potential both in terms of quantity and quality, in parallel with the implementation of the “traditionally” strong in Sweden navy and aviation.

Another important element is the growing role of the reserve component, which is reflected in e.g. the recent reintroduction of conscription and an increase in training coverage. The Swedes are in a good position because they have relatively large inventories of modern equipment [such as the CV-90 IFV] and can recreate units, including backup ones, with their use.

It is also worth mentioning that Stockholm is also involved in international cooperation, both bilateral with the US, with the Nordic countries, and with European NATO members. However, this does not change the fact that in the changing threat environment, the financing of the army is constantly increased to ensure its adequate combat capabilities.

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