Sweden Submarine Capabilities

Inside Muskö military port, National Fortifications Administration, www.fortv.se

The Royal Swedish Navy's submarine flotilla consists of five submarines based at Muskö. The Swedish Navy was the first to operate vessels using an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system based on the Stirling engine. Three Gotland-class units are equipped with AIP, an additional two Västergötland-class vessels have been retrofitted with the system and renamed Södermanland-class. [1]

Plans to develop a new submarine type, the Viking, were terminated after Denmark and Norway withdrew from the development program. [2] However, Sweden's Defense Materiel Administration (FMV) has been tasked with initiating the preliminary planning for an even more modern submarine, the A26 class, to replace its Gotland-class vessels. In 2010, FMV signed a contract with Kockums, Sweden's main submarine shipyard (owned by Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS)), to design the A26. [3] Kockums had hoped to begin constructing the first submarine by the end of 2012, but no submarines have yet been ordered. [4].

 Submarine Tables for Sweden

Like Sweden's current fleet, the A26 will be equipped with Stirling AIP. It is designed for intelligence and stealth operations in shallow waters, but will also have open sea capabilities. [5] According to the A26 concept, the submarine will be based on a modular design to make possible the rapid reformatting of the vessel for varying tasks. Given Sweden's small fleet, it is critical that such operations can be accomplished in a minimal amount of time. The A26 will include a large bow section from which unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) can be launched, transport special forces, and can be used for reconnaissance, mine detection, mine laying, and underwater mapping, as well as warfighting. [6] Kockums is investigating several ways to improve communications with onshore command without giving up the submarine's position, including the possible use of UUVs for communications purposes or new antennas on the submarine. [7]

Sweden's submarines are considered an important defense asset. The submarine force's area of operation has recently been expanded from its original task of countering the threat of Soviet invasion in the Baltic Sea region. Sweden's submarines have begun to participate in multinational rapid reaction exercises acting in waters that range from the North Sea, the Atlantic, and the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean with new tasks focusing on reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, and surveillance. [8]

In May 2005, the Gotland was leased to the U.S. Navy for one year, complete with a Swedish crew. The Gotland out of San Diego and patrolled the Pacific Ocean, where the U.S. Navy practiced joint maneuvers with the stealthy AIP-equipped diesel submarine. [9] According to the Swedish newspaper Blekinge Läns Tidning, U.S. interest in the Gotland class was aroused during joint naval exercises when the U.S. Navy was unable to track the Swedish submarine. [10]

During its first year in the United States, the Gotland conducted approximately 160 training days at sea, supporting strike groups, individual ships and rescue submarines, as well as participating in testing and development of new equipment. [11] This included acting as an opposing force so that the United States could practice anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities, especially against smaller submarines operating close to the coast. [12] Reportedly, during a Joint Task Force Exercise on 6-16 December 2005 with the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group off the coast of Southern California, the Gotland managed to take several pictures of the Ronald Reagan from close quarters, indicating a "strike" on the aircraft carrier. [13]

The submarine evaded detection so effectively that the United States requested a 12-month extension on its lease, in order to continue performing the joint exercises. [14] In July 2007, the HMS Gotland left San Diego to return to Sweden. [15]

[1] Bo Rask, "The Swedish submarine force in the future," Naval Forces, Vol. 24, No. 3 (2003), pp. 85; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com.
[2] Richard Scott, "Viking Submarine to Steer Two-Nation Course," Jane's Defence Weekly, 4 June 2003, www.lexisnexis.com; Richard Scott, "Boat Decision Puts Viking Project in the Shallows," Jane's Defence Weekly, 23 June 2004, www.lexisnexis.com.
[3] "Kockums Receives Overall Design Order for Next-Generation Submarine," Kockums, 25 February 2010, www.kockums.se; "Sweden Plans New Sub Class," Defense Technology International, 1 April 2010, www.lexisnexis.com.
[4] "Kockums is Looking for Sub-Contractors for the A26 Project," Kockums, 9 February 2011, www.kockums.se.
[5] "The Way Ahead – for Kockums A26," Kockums, 26 August 2011. www.kockums.se
[6] Magnus Forsberg, "Ledningsplattform med tentakler," Protec, No. 1, 2006, Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, www.fmv.se.
[7] Magnus Forsberg, "Ledningsplattform med tentakler," Protec, No. 1, 2006, Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, www.fmv.se.
[8] Bo Rask, "The Swedish submarine force in the future," Naval Forces, Vol. 24, No. 3 (2003), pp. 85, in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com.
[9] "RSwN submarine HMS Gotland on lease to US Navy for twelve months," Kockums, 31 May 2005, www.kockums.se.
[10] "USA to lease Gotland-class sub," Kockums, 5 November 2004, www.kockums.se.
[11] "Swedish Submarine Continues to Play Important Role in Joint Training," Navy Newsstand, 20 December 2005, www.news.navy.mil.
[12] U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs, "Swedish Submarine Continues to Play Important Role in Joint Training," U.S. Navy Story NNS051220-05, 20 December 2005, www.navy.mil.
[13] "Svensk Ubåt 'sänkte' USA:s hangarfartyg," Allehanda, January 16, 2006, www.allehanda.se.
[14] "A19 Gotland," GlobalSecurity.org, 05 August 2011, www.globalsecurity.org.
[15] "SSK Gotland Class (Type A19)," Net Resources International, 2012, www naval-technology.com.

July 23, 2013
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