Sweden rebuilds Cold War missile system from museums

Sweden has reconstituted its old Cold War anti-ship defence system, pulling launch trucks out of museums, in its latest move to improve its defences on the island of Gotland.

Sweden rebuilds Cold War missile system from museums
A test shooting on Gotland on Friday. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces.
The Kustrobotbatteri 90 was the only land-based launcher ever developed for the Saab Robotsystem 15 (RBS-15) anti-ship missiles, but only one of the four planned batteries was delivered before the coastal artillery was disbanded in 2000. 
“We analysed whether we would be able to put something back together again which was capable of launching with,” Rear Admiral Thomas Engevall told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper. 
The RBS-15 missiles were launched from Scania trucks, several of which have now been recovered from museums. 
“A number of the trucks still remained. We have have taken components from existing missile boats and warships which had the same missile system,” Engevall added.  
Mike Winnerstig, security policy analyst at the Swedish Defence Research Agency, said that the decision showed that Sweden was stepping up its defence capabilities. 
“This decision is national, but it is also a contribution by Sweden to the international defence capability in the Baltic Sea after Russia's annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine,” he said. “If you group together these kinds of systems on Gotland, you can control quite a lot of territory in the mid-Baltic.” 
“I do not think Sweden is a primary goal for Russia,” he added. “But we would still be involved in any conflict in the Baltic Sea area related to EU countries.” 
Defence minister Peter Hultqvist on Friday visited the test site on Sweden's east coast where the reconstituted system is being put through its paces.  
“It is extremely good that we have land-based coastal missile systems back in our National Defence,” he said. “It means that we can shoot anti-ship missiles from land over great distance. They provides increased flexibility and capability in marine warfare. It increases military capability and that’s something we need.” 
He said that SAAB had worked closely with the Swedish armed forces to  put the system back together. 
Mikael Oscarsson, defence spokesman for the opposition Christian Democrats said he aimed to convince the Swedish parliament to reverse a decision to scrap the ArtE 740 radar, which could be used together with the missile system. 
“If you also used the ArtE 740 mobile radar stations there would be a system that is not dependent on vulnerable fixed radar stations and data from ships,” he said. 


Sweden steps up Baltic defence in ‘signal’ to Russia

Sweden's defence minister has said his country is carrying out military exercises in the Baltic Sea to 'send a signal' to countries including Russia.

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in 'signal' to Russia
Swedish troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Photo: Joel Thungren/Försvarsmakten/TT

The so-called “high readiness action” means the Swedish army, navy and air force are currently more visible in the southeastern and southern Baltic Sea and on the island of Gotland.

No details have been disclosed about the number of troops involved in the action.

Sweden is “sending a signal both to our Western partners and to the Russian side that we are prepared to defend Sweden's sovereignty,” Hultqvist told news agency TT.

Ground troops on Gotland. Photo: Bezhav Mahmoud/Försvarsmakten/TT

“There is currently extensive military activity in the Baltic Sea, conducted by Russian as well as Western players, on a scale the likes of which have not been seen since the Cold War,” the Swedish Armed Forces' Commander of Joint Operations, Jan Thörnqvist, said in a statement.

“The exercise activities are more complex and have arisen more rapidly than before. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has caused global anxiety and uncertainty. Over all, the situation is more unstable and more difficult to predict,” Thörnqvist said.

A Visby-class corvette and two Jas Gripen jets in the air. Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten/TT

Hultqvist said Sweden was also monitoring developments in Belarus “very closely”.

Non-Nato member Sweden, which has not been to war in two centuries and which slashed military spending at the end of the Cold War, reopened a garrison on Gotland in January 2018 amid concerns about Russian intentions in Europe and the Baltic.