Sweden and Finland buy new torpedoes together

Sweden and Finland have announced a joint procurement of torpedoes of the type New Lightweight Torpedo (NLT). This torpedo is produced by Saab Dynamics and is also known by the Swedish name of Torpedsystem 47 or Tp 47.

The hope is that the coordinated purchase will lower the costs of sustaining and further developing the torpedo system. It is also anticipated that this opens other possibilities for cooperation within anti-submarine warfare. …Continue reading

Sweden establishes new regiment on Gotland

The Swedish government has decided to form a new regiment on Gotland. From the beginning the regiment will count 350 soldiers but that number is expected to grow successively, reports svt.se. The headquarters for the new regiment will be in Visby. This is the first establishment of a new regiment in Sweden since World War II.

The decision is effective from 2018, which is just over two weeks away. However, many of the soldiers are already present on the island. Since the last regiment on Gotland was closed in 2005 there have been different subunits on the island, and the new regiment is largely an attempt to streamline the leadership.

It is hard to overstate the strategic importance of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. For both surveillance and as a possible launching position for missiles Gotland is perfectly situated just 150 kilometers off the coast of Latvia. With one of Sweden’s new Patriot batteries (or an equivalent American one) positioned on the Island it is possible to control the airspace over much of the Baltic Sea. An invasion of Gotland would therefore be an obvious move by Russia in case of a war.

Ocean capable corvettes could be affordable force enablers

Yesterday the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that Soobrazitelnyy, a corvette from the Baltic Fleet, had passed through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean. This was the latest in a series of press releases covering the journey of two Steregushchiy class corvettes and an auxiliary vessel from the Baltic Fleet.

The three ships Boiky, Soobrazitelnyy, and Kola departed from Baltiysk on 14 October, and it was announced that they would complete tasks in the Atlantic Ocean. Since then, the ministry’s press service has been generous with updates on the journey. Reports have been made on the passage of the Strait of Gibraltar, AAW and ASW exercises, a port visit in Limassol, how the ships split up with Boiky completing tasks in the Mediterranean (I suppose around Syria) and Soobrazitelnyy passing the Suez Canal to participate in anti-piracy operations and visit the port of Djibouti. With the ships reunited in the Mediterranean I suppose it is reasonable to assume that the group will head home soon, perhaps in time for Christmas which in Russia is on 7 January.

Obviously, with this massive press coverage one has to wonder whether the point of the whole journey was to generate attention. Nevertheless I do think that the proof of concept is really interesting. Medium sized warships that are large enough to endure the ocean yet small enough to be affordable could prove very useful in the future.

These are ships with a displacement around 2000 tons. Aside from the Russian Steregushchiy class, I think the German Braunschweig class and the British Batch 2 River Class are interesting examples of such warships. A look at the Baltic navies reveals that most only have ships that are much larger or much smaller.

For countries like Denmark, Norway, and Poland such medium sized warships could permit the country to participate in low-risk maritime security operations while the larger frigates could focus on tasks where their broad warfare capabilities are needed. For other countries like Sweden ocean capable corvettes could make it possible to participate at all.

Historic procurement of Nordic Combat Uniforms reaches prequalification

The Nordic Combat Uniform (NCU) project is moving ahead with an official invitation to possible candidates for prequalification. The goal is that Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden will buy new combat uniforms together, albeit with national variations in colors and camouflage patterns.

By making the procurement together the Nordic countries hope to attract big players that are able to provide higher quality uniforms for less money. The expected value of the contract is between 290 and 425 million euros.

The project is run in a NORDEFCO group that was established in February 2016. Since then the countries have worked out legal and technical details regarding the combat uniform system. There have been some different preferences among the countries with some focusing on Arctic features while others had wishes regarding uses in tropical weather conditions. Overall, though, the countries had very similar requirements to a combat uniform system.

The tender process is officially coordinated by the Norwegian defense. If you are interested in selling a uniform system to the Nordic countries, you can find the procurement documents here.

Sweden settles on US Patriot missiles

Sweden will buy Patriot missiles to replace the country’s old Hawk air defense system. Political turmoil has preceded the 10 billion kroner deal.

Sweden will go ahead with the Patriot air defense system to replace the country’s aging Hawk batteries. That is clear after a broad coalition of political parties has decided to ask the Defense Materiel Administration (FMV) to commence negotiations regarding the procurement.

The initial price of Sweden’s Patriot system is expected to be in the 10-12 billions SEK price range, but that only includes the radar system, fire control systems, and the launchers. It does not include the missiles themselves, of which Sweden can choose between different variants. The total cost may therefore exceed 20-25 billions SEK. The system will be fully implemented in 2025.

What are Patriot missiles

Patriot is an American air defense system manufactured by Raytheon. It gets its name from the backronym “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target” which indicates how the radar system works. Development of the system started in 1976, and it was first operational in 1984. Since then the system has received modernizations through “Patriot Advanced Capability” upgrades known as PAC-1, PAC-2, and PAC-3.

PAC-1 missiles have an operational range up to 70 kilometers. PAC-2 missiles have a range of 100-150 kilometers and can reach an altitude of up to 24 kilometers. They are useful against both ballistic and atmospheric targets. The PAC-3 missiles are specialized against ballistic missiles, and they are probably not on the table for the Swedish defense.

Why has Sweden chosen Patriot

There were two missile systems in the Swedish competition, and Patriot won over the French-Italian Aster SAMP/T system. In several ways the SAMP/T is a more modern system than Patriot with the ability to control more missiles simultaneously, a larger range, 360 degrees radar coverage (Patriot has only 120 degrees), and better fire-and-forget capabilities. However, Patriot won the competition, and Swedish defense minister Hultqvist assures that the decision was entirely based on the technical merits of the systems where Patriot was a better match for Sweden. It is commonly speculated, though, that a desire to nurture political relationships made the needle swing towards the American system.

Political turmoil

The decision to buy the Patriot system was disturbed somewhat in October when internal disagreements in the social democratic party threatened to stall the process. Apparently foreign minister Margot Wallström and finance minister Magdalena Andersson were heavily against the purchase, finding it to be too expensive and an unnecessarily aggressive move at a time when diplomatic relationships with Russia need improvement.

Right wing opposition parties also expressed concerns about the costs of the system but from a very different angle. They were fundamentally concerned that the system would be so expensive that it would steal resources from other projects in the armed forces that also need improvements. Some were worried that the total costs of the system were too uncertain.

In the end, the politicians found each other to make the deal. It is speculated that one of the political costs for defense minister Hultqvist for the acquisition of the Patriot system was to accept that Sweden will sign the controversial UN resolution to ban nuclear weapons.

Nordic countries agree to exchange radar data for air surveillance

The Nordic countries have agreed to enhance air surveillance through the exchange of radar data between the members of NORDEFCO. The defense ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Nordic Cooperation for Air Surveillance Information Exchange during their meeting in Helsinki yesterday. Several sources report this, but I have found the Norwegian government to have the most informative announcement.

The ambition is to create a better total picture of the airspace over the region. Of course this is only a political agreement that makes the political framework to allow the exchange of data, and it may take a long time before any data is actually exchanged. It is technically difficult to make systems communicate with each other, and sometimes the bureaucracies in the countries move slower than the political ambitions. Nevertheless, the agreement to exchange radar data is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope the technicians can make it work quickly.

Jamming of phones and GPS during Zapad causes concerns

Did Russia jam GPS signals in Norway and phone services in Latvia and Sweden and during exercise Zapad in September? Apparently there are many indications that they did, and now Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg has expressed his concerns about the Russian demonstrations of electronic warfare capabilities.

Ideally, military units have redundant systems so they are able to continue operations despite the application of electronic warfare on the battlefield. This may not always get enough attention during exercises, but at least military units are aware that electronic countermeasures exist, and they have some kind of prepared response to it. Military ships, for example, should be able to navigate safely without GPS.

The civil society is much more vulnerable. For most people cellular phones are crucial in emergency situations, and effective GPS jamming could be dangerous for transportation systems, potentially leading to accidents.

Suspicions are that the Russian GPS jamming in Norway was applied in order to disrupt their own forces during training, whereas the phone jamming in Latvia and Sweden was perhaps a deliberate attempt at disturbing these countries. Regardless, it is dangerous to apply such measures, and it shouldn’t be done without prior notice. The Latvian emergency phone service was shut down for several hours, and although there are no reports of anybody not receiving necessary help during the attack, real people could have suffered as a result.

Nordic countries enhance cyber collaboration

Nordic countries are enhancing collaboration about cyber defense. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway have agreed to develop capabilities under NORDEFCO. And apparently Finland is taking the lead.

Gerard O’Dwyer writing for Fifth Domain:

Within NORDEFCO, Finland has taken the lead role to develop Computer Emergency Response Team capabilities that have the capacity to better protect Nordic defense IT, core force systems and critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The deepening of Nordic collaboration is running parallel to increasing defense and hybrid threat cybersecurity investments by governments in all four countries.

Sweden to buy new air-defense system

The Baltic Post:

Swedish policymakers have made clear that they wish to update the air-defense system by 2020, and this tight deadline has narrowed down the options to two systems, which are already developed and widely in use.
The first is the Patriot, developed by U.S. defense giant Raytheon, and the second is French-Italian Eurosam’s SAMP/T. Both systems were employed in Aurora 17, and reports suggest that the Swedish government is very close to making a final decision on which one to choose – a process reportedly surrounded by intense lobbying from both the U.S. and European sides.