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MILITARY

EXPLAINED: These are the weapons Sweden is sending to Ukraine

Sweden has announced the largest ever delivery of heavy weaponry in its history, including the advanced Archer missile defence system, NLAW anti-tank missiles and CV-90 assault vehicles. Here's what you need to know about these weapons.

EXPLAINED: These are the weapons Sweden is sending to Ukraine
The Archer artillery system is composed of a fully automated howitzer mounted on an all-terrain vehicle. Photo: Bezav Mahmod/Swedish Armed Forces

Sweden’s government said on Thursday that it was giving 4.3 billion kronor (€350 million) worth of weaponry to aid Ukrainian forces in their defence of the country, and in their efforts to recover territories lost to Russia since its invasion began last February. 

Here are the main weapons included in the delivery.

The Archer Artillery System

Archer ready for fire mission during the Swedish Army’s Trident Juncture exercise in 2018. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

The Archer Artillery System, otherwise known as Archer FH77BW L52 or Artillerisystem 08, is a mobile artillery system developed by the Swedish company Bofors, and then ordered by the Swedish and Norwegian armed forces after Bofors had been taken over by BAE Systems. 

The weapon entered service in Sweden in October 2013. 

The howitzer has a range of of either 35 kilometres, or more than 50 kilometres, depending on whether it is using BAE Bofors/Nexter Bonus rounds or the  Raytheon/Bofors guided artillery shell M982 Excalibur. It is mounted either on the back of a Volvo A30D 6×6 articulated all-terrain hauler vehicle or on the back of a Rheinmetall MAN HX2 tactical truck. 

Defence minister Pål Jonson told a press conference on Tuesday that Archer was “perhaps the world’s most advanced artillery system”, and that Ukraine had been asking to have it for “a long time”. 

Archer howitzers are fired during a military exercise in Sweden in 2018. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

Jonson said that the reason Ukraine was so interested in receiving Archer howitzers was for their 50 kilometres range and high precision, which help give Ukrainian forces the edge over Russian artillery.  

M982 Excalibur shells are fitted with GPS systems allowing them to guide themselves towards their target. 

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba during a visit to Sweden in August said that receiving Archer systems was one of Ukraine’s top priorities, but the Swedish Armed Forces were initially reluctant to do so due to its importance for Swedish defence, and the weapons’ complexity, which will mean extensive training for Ukrainian forces, and significant maintenance and reserve parts requirements. 

According to Dagens Nyheter, there are currently 24 Archer systems in storage, of which at least 20 could be upgraded so they can be put into use. It is unclear how many will be delivered to Ukraine, but an Archer battalion usually consists of 12 vehicles.

CV90 assault vehicles  

A CV90 assault vehicle on exercise in Sweden. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

Sweden will deliver Ukraine up to 50 of these assault vehicles, known in Swedish as Stridsfordon 90.

The CV90 was developed by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration in the mid-1980s in cooperation with the Swedish companies Hägglunds and Bofors, now both part of BAE Systems. It is designed to be a rapid all-terrain vehicle, sufficiently well armoured to withstand attack, and able to target both tanks and planes. 

The standard assault vehicle is armed with a 40 mm Bofors cannon, a machine gun, and six grenade launchers. It is manned by a crew of three with seats in the back for up to eight infantry soldiers.

“With the CV90 the Ukrainians will get stronger firepower, better mobility and better protection,” defence minister Pål Jonsson said at the press conference. 

Troops file out of the back of a CV90 assault vehicle on an exercise in Sweden. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

Sweden has 549 CV90s currently in service, of which 42 are the heavily armoured CV9040C variant. 

NLAW anti-tank missiles

The NLAW hand held anti-tank missile is a powerful weapon against enemy tanks. Photo: SAAB

The NLAW, which stands for “Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon”, is a handheld, disposable, fire-and-forget anti-tank weapon, which is capable of penetrating 500 millimetres of armour at a range of between 20 and 800 metres.

The UK has sent more than 6,500 of the weapons to Ukraine and they are thought to have been responsible for a significant proportion of the Russian tanks destroyed by Ukrainian forces.

The chief attraction of the weapon is how easy it is to use, even by soldiers who have received very little training, as it does not require the user to enter any information on the range to the target in order to aim and fire it. All the user has to do is follow the target for a few seconds with the sight and then the missile itself does the rest of the work.

The missile uses its own magnetic and optical sensors to take itself about one metre above the tanks turret, where it detonates, knocking out heavy tanks in a single shot. A soldier can be trained to use it in less than an hour.

The NLAW was designed by SAAB in Sweden at the request of the British Armed Forces, and has been assembled by Thales in Northern Ireland.

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MILITARY

Sweden doesn’t rule out sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Sweden does not 'exclude' sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, said Defence Minister Pål Jonsson.

Sweden doesn't rule out sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine

His comments come after Germany gave the greenlight for them to be given to Kyiv.

Following weeks of pressure from Ukraine and other allies, Berlin finally agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks, seen as among the best in the world.

The move opened the way for other European nations that operate Leopards to send tanks from their own fleets to Ukraine, further building up the combined-arms arsenal Kyiv needs to launch counter-offensives.

“I don’t exclude the possibility that we can do that in the future, working with other countries,” Jonson told AFP in an interview.

“We could possibly contribute in various ways. It could be related to logistics, maintenance, training, but also tanks as such.”

Sweden, which has broken with its doctrine of not delivering weapons to a country at war, last week pledged a major package of arms for Ukraine, including modern howitzers and armoured vehicles.

“Right now our focus is on delivering that rather substantial contribution,” Jonson said.

EXPLAINED:

On Wednesday he held talks with senior Nato officials in Brussels with Sweden’s bid to join the Western military alliance facing fresh problems from Turkey.

Ankara on Tuesday postponed accession talks with Sweden and Finland, lashing out at Stockholm over protests that included the burning of the Koran.

The decision further diminished the chances of Turkey ratifying their Nato bids before its May presidential and parliamentary elections.

Jonson insisted that it remained a top priority for the Swedish government to become a member of the alliance “as quickly as possible”.

“We’re respectful that this is of course a decision for Turkey and for its parliament,” he said.

Sweden dropped a long-standing policy of non-alignment last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked fears that the country was outside Nato’s collective security umbrella.

Jonson said Sweden already felt “considerably more secure” after receiving assurances from powers including the United States, Britain and France.

“Of course, being a full member of Nato will provide us with Article Five and the security guarantees, and that’s important of course as well,” he said.

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