Sweden put into service Patriot PAC-III air defense system

STOCKHOL, ($1=9.04 Swedish Kronas) – In 2017, the Air & Space Force sent two sections of the Ground-to-Air Defense Squadron [EDSA] 1/950 “Crau” to Sweden, as part of Exercise Aurora 17. One of the objectives was to demonstrate the “Mamba” Medium Range Air-Ground / Land System [SAMP / T], at a time when Stockholm was considering strengthening its air defense capabilities, particularly against ballistic missiles.

Moreover, the “Mamba”, proposed by the Eurosam consortium [formed by Thales and MBDA], was given the favorite. Only, in terms of the sale of military equipment, we must be careful not to make predictions. And, after Poland and Romania, Sweden chose to acquire four batteries of the American Patriot PAC-III air defense system for 1.2 billion euros. This did not go without causing some political turmoil.

However, the amount of the “quote” presented by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA], responsible for US exports of military equipment, was significantly higher than the envelope provided by the Swedish government. Thus, for four Patriot PAC-III batteries and 300 interceptor missiles [including Patriot MIM-104E and 200 Patriot PAC-III MSE], it had been estimated at $ 3.2 billion. Anyway, the final bill would undoubtedly have been lower. In August 2018, Stockholm gave the green light to this acquisition.

However, the choice of the Patriot PAC-III probably followed other considerations. Fearing to be the target of a possible Russian offensive [which moreover motivated a whole series of measures, starting with the partial restoration of military service and a substantial increase in its military expenditure] and not belonging to NATO, Sweden had explained that this acquisition “came within the framework of the implementation” of a “declaration of intent signed” by Stockholm and Washington in June 2016.

Anyway, a little more than three years after having placed an order, the Luftvärnsregemente Lv 6 [air defense regiment, note] officially took possession of the Patriot PAC-III system which, on the occasion of a ceremony held in Halmstad [southwest Sweden], was renamed “luftvärnssystem 103” [or LvS103].

Until now, the Swedish regiment had portable RBS 70 surface-to-air missiles and RBS 97 missiles [Swedish improved version of the American MIM-23 Hawk]. Also, delivery of the Patriot PAC-III system marks the start of a “new era,” said General Karl Engelbrektson, Swedish Army Chief of Staff.

“It’s a big day for the Swedish armed forces. We are given a new capability to counter ballistic missiles and the LvS103 improves our air defense capability in very concrete ways. I can now announce to the Minister of Defense that what is called his Initial Operational Capability [IOC] will be delivered at the end of the year,” General Engelbrektson said.

Another consequence of the announced commissioning of the LVS103 is that it will strengthen cooperation with the US Army, in particular between Luftvärnsregemente Lv 6 and the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. In any case, that’s what the latter’s commanding officer, General Gregory J. Brady, promised.

“The most important aspect for us is that now another country that we work with has received the Patriot system, which means that we can continue to develop our relations with the Swedish army and its air defense regiment,” he said.

The region where the Lv 6 Patriot PAC-3 batteries will be deployed has not been specified. Until then, it has been argued that at least two will be used to bolster the defense of Götland Island, dubbed the Baltic “aircraft carrier” because of its strategic position.

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