The Swedish Navy is facing exciting times which looks set to seeing it recover some of the strength that it has lost due to defence cuts over the last few decades. While the number of vessels in the fleet has been significantly reduced since the 1980s, it possesses modern 'stealth' corvettes, updated mine hunters and is looking forward to a new class of submarine. Through its industrial partner Saab (and shipbuilding subsidiary Kockums), the construction of two new A-26 Class submarines has already begun and designs have already been drawn-up for the Swedish Navy's next generation of a stealth family of ships.
On 16 August 2017, the Swedish government announced an increase in defence spending from 2018 onward due its perception of'the changing security situation in our region'. In addition to existing investments of $60 million (SEK500m) allocated in the 2017 Spring Amending Budget, there would now be an additional $323 million (SEK 2.7 billion) per year from 2018 to further extend 'total defence capability'.
Speaking during a media briefing on 22 November, Rear Admiral (RADM) Jens Nykvist, Chief of Staff, Royal Swedish Navy said that international naval activity in the Baltic Sea, Sweden's back-yard in terms of defence with a long exposed eastern coastline, has increased, calling it a "tricky environment" in which to operate.
RADM Nykvist is an ex-submariner with 15 years "spent below the surface" and was in command of the Swedish attack submarine HSwMS Gotland when it began a one year bilateral training exercise with US Navy anti-submarine warfare forces in June 2005.
Looking back to September, he said that he could not recall a time when there were more warships in the Baltic Sea. These were largely centred around two exercises--a mainly national exercise bolstered by US Marines as well as international Special Operations Forces (SOF) called Exercise Aurora 2017 which focused onthelslandof Gotland and territory north of Stockholm, and Exercise Northern Coasts (NOCO) 2017. NOCO is a multinational exercise for NATO, Partnership for Peace and EU countries, which has been conducted annually since 2007 in the Baltic region. This year was particularly busy as it was managed by the Swedish Navy and involved 50 ships from a wide variety of nations and included the patrol ship HSwMS Carlskrona, as well as two Visby Class stealth-corvettes, HSwMS Karlstad and HSwMS Harnosand. The exercise also provided an opportunity to test the initial operational capability (IOC) of the new Swedish-Finnish Naval Task Group.
"We see more importance in the region but also uncertainly", said RADM Nykvist, largely indicating the Russian presence from Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg where that country brings in around '40 percent" of its imports. He said that Russian naval activity had increased in the small Baltic Sea area that witnesses between 2,000-4,000 maritime vessels in the region at any one time.
The Baltic is...