04:01 GMT +325 April 2018
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    Swedish Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighters

    Sweden's Defense Ministry Has Six Items on its Wish List

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    As a result of dramatic cuts in Sweden's military budget that started the early 1990s, the Swedish Defense Ministry sees itself as being in dire need of materiel and new equipment. Swedish researchers expect the peak to be reached a few years into the 2020s.

    Swedish politicians stopped cutting defense spending long ago due to their current narrative of a "deterioration of the security situation in Europe," in which they typically attempt to incriminate Russia. However, the hunger for materiel is still strong in the Swedish Armed Forces.

    Sweden has hiked its defense budget recently; these funds are expected to be earmarked the recruitment of soldiers of sailors. However, Swedish politicians don't think this is enough, and Swedish defense companies may safely look forward to new orders to plug the widening defense gaps. Even though heavy machinery like airplanes, tanks, radar systems have a long life, sooner or later, they have to be replaced, which is why Sweden is facing major investments, Peter Nordlund of the Defense Research Institute told the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, while reviewing Sweden's military "wish list."

    1) Fighter jets

    First and foremost, the Swedish Air Force needs to replace its current fleet of Gripen fighter aircraft with 60 Gripen E, which are expected to take to the skies around 2023. For Sweden, this is a huge investment, and aircraft manufacturer Saab received a mammoth order of around 40 billion SEK ($4.6bln). Many politicians and military experts made it clear, though, that an additional 10 fighters may be needed.

    2) Air Defense

    The exact number of Gripens needed is dependent on the country's air safety. Today, Sweden is hesitating between using a US-made Patriot air defense network and its European counterpart SAMP/T. In addition to an estimated cost of around 10 billion SEK ($1.14bln), the problem is the ultimate choice between the US and the European Union as partner.

    3) Submarines

    Saab, which is currently building two submarines for the Swedish Navy in its shipyard in Karlskrona, has also been commissioned to develop two new A26 submarines. In total, the orders have reached about 10 billion SEK, but there has been talk about buying at least one more submarine.

    4) Transport aircraft

    The Swedish Air Force has long used the 1960s Hercules C-130 as its main transportation plane, and today the need for an upgrade is dramatic. At present, the choice is between a more modern version of the Hercules, Brazilian Embraer's KC-390, and Airbus's A400M.

    5) Training aircraft

    For a long time, Swedish pilots have undergone basic flight training using the SK60, which has been stamped as "outdated." The alternatives are schooling pilots in another country, such as the US, buying planes from a foreign manufacturer or make use of the new trainer developed by Saab and Boeing for the US Air Force. Initially, it was slated to replace the SK60 by 2020, but the government has asked the Armed Forces to consider continued use until 2025.

    6) Corvettes

    The Gävle and the Sundsvall, two Gävle-klass corvettes, have been in service since the early 1990s and are starting to become partly outdated. For instance, the corvettes are in need of a new radar array, a better wiring system and communications equipment.

    The Swedish Armed Forces have been waning in size ever since the end of the Cold War era, in lockstep with shrinking military budgets. Today, the Swedish Armed Forces only numbers 20,000 men, as opposed to 180,000 in the 1980s. Additionally, Sweden's defense budget has shrunk from 3.1 percent of the country's GDP in 1981 to only 1.1 percent in 2016.

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