Army: we need 500 million for satellite

Whilst Sweden’s armed forces budget is dwindling faster than a speeding bullet, the Supreme Commander asks the state for a new military toy – a satellite system which would put a 500 million krona dent in the government’s wallet.

The supremely titled Supreme Commander of the Swedish armed forces Håkan Syrén has called on the government to splash its cash on a piece of modern technology.

A satellite system with a price tag of 500 million kronor will enable the Swedish military to take “important strategic pictures” over Northern Europe.

According to Thursday’s Östgöta Correspondenten the pictures will be “hard currency amid Sweden’s military co-operation with other countries,” and could be launched into space in 2008 or 2009.

Supreme Commander Syrén said, as a so-called national investment, funding for the satellite must come from the government’s budget rather the armed forces accounts.

Which is just as well really, according to Thursday’s Dagens Nyheter which reported that Sweden’s military finances are in need of some attention.

By 2007, the armed forces budget will be 600 million crowns in the red if action isn’t taken quickly. Syrén has earlier said he would propose radical cutbacks to remedy the problem. But no such proposals were included in the report he handed to the government on Wednesday, outlining the armed forces budget for the coming year.

Instead he asked for a new satellite search system.

“I am expecting a reaction from the government in terms of principal. Then the ball is back in our court and we have to go back to them with a concrete proposal,” the Supreme Commander told DN.

Sweden’s armed forces will keep their financial head above water for 2005/06 thanks to the shutdown of ten regiments, a record few Swedes signing up for military service and a recruitment freeze on officers.

But the cutbacks cannot continue in the wake of the government decision last winter to reduce defence spending.

According to Swedish Radio on Thursday, the bulk of the budget is in taken up by too many older officers and unnecessary weapons purchases designed to equip a bigger defence organisation than Sweden has today.

SR added that the Supreme Commander Syrén looked “anxious” when explaining the situation of the military budget.

Having proposed no sharp savings on staff, units or purchases, Syrén is now at the mercy of the Swedish government when it comes to which areas of the armed forces can be fuelled with a cash injection.

The 500 million krona satellite system is looking very doubtful then.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Östgöta Correspondenten, Sveriges Radio