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[*] posted on 20-5-2017 at 01:50 PM
Sweden and Finland Defence and Strategic Policies


OPINION: Why Stockholm must dig deep for defence

19 May, 2017 SOURCE: Flight International BY: Flight International

It is astonishing to think that at the height of the Cold War, the world’s fifth-largest air force belonged to non-aligned Sweden.

Spurred on by the threat of imminent invasion by Soviet hordes, its industry became a pioneer in developing aircraft and other systems that were perfectly adapted to its national defence needs.


Saab

The world changed, and Stockholm shifted focus to prepare its forces for expeditionary operations: sending non-combat troops to Afghanistan and flying reconnaissance missions with Gripen fighters over Libya. At the same time, it reduced scale, from a mobilised force of around 800,000 to roughly 50,000 today.

But facing a renewed threat from Russia, Sweden is reverting to a Cold War-like defensive posture, with more operational fighter squadrons – albeit only six – and increased readiness. But tough choices lie ahead, with only 60 new Gripen Es on order – a roughly one-third reduction from its current fleet of 96 C/Ds – and much of its wider air force inventory in need of replacement, since it dates back to the real Cold War.

As is the case in all nations, politicians want their military to approach any challenge with a “can-do” spirit that often defies related equipment levels: saying “no” is simply not an option. But in Stockholm’s case, in the future, the nation can only get what it is willing to pay for
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[*] posted on 27-6-2017 at 02:22 PM


Sweden to Curb Arms Sales to Dictatorships

(Source: Radio Sweden; issued June 26, 2017)

Sweden's government is launching a bill to limit sales of weapons to dictatorships and countries where human rights are severely under threat.

The ruling red-green coalition was expected to submit the bill containing a new democracy clause to the Council on Legislation on Monday, after reaching agreement with the centre-right Alliance bloc.

The government made the proposal two years ago, promising to limit arms sales to countries with "serious deficits in their democratic status".

The proposal has faced opposition from some in the arms industry, who fear it will damage sales.

Håkan Buskhe, president of Saab, warned that "reduc[ing] opportunities for Swedish defence" could force his company to move some research and development activities overseas, and also risked increasing the cost of planes and weapons for the Swedish armed forces.

According to Ekot, the bill to be submitted to the Council on Monday has retained the democracy clause.

Sweden's arms industry, worth $1.21 bn in 2016, has often been criticised as in contradiction to the country's neutral status and focus on human rights.

In recent years the country has sold weapons or planes to autocratic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE.

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[*] posted on 19-8-2017 at 12:28 PM


New spending deal affects Swedish military’s buying power

By: Gerard O'Dwyer   9 hours ago


A budget increase will result in more than $840 million transferred to the Swedish Armed Forces' central fund to cover combat equipment procurement and important defense capabilities’ programs. (Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

HELSINKI ― The Swedish government has struck a pivotal cross-party deal that will add $1 billion in new spending to the annual defense budget to be spread over three years, from 2018 to 2020. Sweden’s defense budget will amount to $5.1 billion in 2017.

Significantly, while the budget agreement promises to benefit many of the Swedish Armed Force’s core procurement programs, it will fall short of providing sufficient funding to cover the full range of the SAF’s core air-defense and naval equipment acquisition projects

In effect, the budget increase will result in more than $840 million transferred to the SAF’s central fund to cover combat equipment procurement and important defense capabilities’ programs.

Additionally, more funding will be available for recruitment and specialized training for professional and conscription-based forces.

The agreement, which was reached between the Ministry of Defence and the leaders of Sweden’s largest opposition parties, also includes $160 million in extra spending to bolster the country’s civil defense infrastructure over the years 2018-2020.

The deal, said Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, has strengthened the consensus between the government and main opposition parties on military spending and the reinforcement of Sweden’s defense capabilities going forward.

“The agreement is positive. It clearly reflects a good sign of political stability and vision. Moreover, it’s good for the Armed Forces and it sends an important signal to the world about Sweden and our commitment to a strong defense,” Hultqvist said.

Apart from air-defense and naval strengthening, the SAF’s capacity-building programs will also target improvements to the Army’s front-line rapid-response combat units and organization.

These core modular units will be provided with additional modern fighting vehicles, be equipped with greater firepower and become more mobile across all terrains.

The budget deal was backed by leading opposition parties the Moderates and the Center. The government parties included the ruling Social Democrats and its minority partner the Green Party.

Negotiations between the two sides commenced during the first quarter of 2017, propelled by an increasingly unpredictable Russia as a backdrop.

Sweden sees Russia as a growing security threat in the Nordic-Baltic region. It regards the Kremlin’s military-muscle flexing as a destabilizing factor for all NATO-member and unaligned states in the High North and Baltic Sea areas.

Several parties, including the Moderates, threatened to exit deal negotiations unless the government agreed to a “sizable” increase in spending on a scale that is sufficient to cover major equipment acquisition programs, including aircraft and submarines, in addition to dealing with manpower shortages in the main branches of the military.

“It was important that the main opposition parties remained in the talks. The deal that we have now was secured by hard negotiations. We helped get more money for the Armed Forces.

The result would have been less positive if we had left,” said Hans Wallmark, the Moderate Party’s defense spokesman.

The new budget deal hasn’t pleased all opposition leaders. The Liberal Party criticized the deal as being “insufficient” to correct all capability deficiencies within the Armed Forces and national defense as a whole.

“The defense budget decision of 2015 left the Armed Forces underfinanced and with insufficient capabilities. Sweden’s defense capabilities are still insufficient,” said Jan Björklund, the Liberal Party’s leader.

The Christian Democrats left the cross-party budget talks in July after its proposal to increase defense budget spending by $1.3 billion over the years 2018-2020 was rejected by the government parties.

“We feel that the annual defense budget needs to be much higher than it is for the Armed Forces to become operational to an optimum level and achieve all of its capability goals,” said Ebba Busch, the Christian Democrats’ party leader.
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[*] posted on 21-8-2017 at 10:39 PM


OSINT Summary: Finland's first suspected terrorist attack illustrates potential threat posed by nascent Islamist networks

Otso Iho - IHS Jane's Terrorism & Insurgency Monitor

21 August 2017

On 18 August, an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker – identified as Abderrahman Mechkah – conducted a knife attack in the central square of the city of Turku in Finland, killing two people and wounding eight others. The two fatalities and six of the wounded were women whom police said were deliberately targeted, while two men were wounded when attempting to help the victims. The attacker was shot and wounded in the leg by police minutes after the attack began, before being arrested. On 19 August, police said that the incident was being investigated as an act of terrorism. In addition to the attacker, four other Moroccan nationals were arrested in and around Turku, and an international arrest warrant was issued for a sixth suspect through Europol.

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[*] posted on 23-8-2017 at 05:58 PM


With Latest Funding Agreement, Sweden Awakens from its Defense Slumber

(Source: Forecast International; issued Aug 21, 2017)

Sweden’s minority government and political opposition Alliance bloc have agreed to a new defense deal that will provide SEK8.1 billion ($1 billion) in additional funding for the country’s broad security needs over the upcoming three-year period through 2020. The agreement bolsters spending on the Swedish military (which will receive SEK6.8 billion – or $841 million – worth of the additional funding) and civil defense (SEK1.3 billion, or $160 million).

This latest step by the government is yet another indicator of the growing political consensus that years of disinvestment, force structure downsizings, and broad neglect have left Sweden vulnerable in a shifting strategic landscape.

The reality of Sweden’s altered security environment dawned on the nation’s political class in 2014, owing to two events. First, Russia completed an abrupt takeover of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Then later in the fall a mysterious submarine – believed by the Swedish military to be Russian – penetrated the Swedish archipelago.

With Sweden jarred by these events, its national security outlook underwent an abrupt turn. Oftentimes oblivious, dismissive or naïve from the mid-1990s onward, the majority political parties have now slowly coalesced around recognition that Sweden – despite being ostensibly outside any NATO-versus-Russia paradigm – remains vulnerable should conflict erupt along its periphery. This recognition is particularly important as it relates to Sweden’s offshore island of Gotland, strategically located in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

In 2015, a study was commissioned by the Swedish government to analyze the country’s current and future defense and security cooperation alternatives. The inquiry’s final report (“Security in a New Era”) was issued on September 9, 2016. The report’s conclusions reiterated earlier assessments by the Swedish Defense Commission that Russian actions – including the return of Russian military aircraft close to (or violating) Swedish airspace in 2011, a Russian military exercise in March 2013 that simulated an air attack on Sweden, and the aforementioned annexing of the Crimea from Ukraine – had altogether undermined international law and the European cooperative security order. It noted that “Russia’s actions are characterized by a tendency to exploit opportunities it perceives in any given situation.”

The study also made the observation that any Russian attempt to exert military control over the nearby Baltic region would likely draw Sweden into the conflict, possibly in the initial stages of any operation.

Under this scenario, the study pointed out, Russia might seek to move troops onto Swedish territory in order to deploy air defense systems that could be used to deny NATO forces access to Baltic Sea airspace. Gotland’s relative proximity to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad would also provide Russia with the ability to deny NATO sea-based support elements access to shipping lanes that could be used to come to the aid of the Baltics.

Recognizing the importance of the island as a crucial link in the larger Baltic Sea security chain, Sweden began returning troops and equipment to Gotland on a permanent basis in September 2016 following an 11-year hiatus.

Later, in December, Sweden’s Civil Contingency Agency began notifying local authorities across the country that operations centers in underground bunkers should be maintained and a system of emergency sirens put into place. The mass directive hinted at a return to Sweden’s old Total Defense Strategy of the Cold War era, instructing local governments that in the event of war, municipality defense efforts should be as natural as performing civil services in peacetime.

Then in March, the Swedish government announced it was reintroducing military conscription as a means to backfill a shortage of incoming military volunteers.

Now comes the release of more funding for the country’s defense and security needs, money that will go toward – among other things – buying new armored vehicles and ammunition and bolstering basic training, military recruitment, and officer education. Yet while the latest defense spending agreement is an improvement, it should be noted that it remains 10 percent short of what the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, Micael Byden, earlier this year stated would be needed to fulfill the five-year Defense Policy Plan (or Defense Bill 2016-2020) agreed to in 2015.

Nonetheless, taken altogether the recent steps to bolster Sweden’s weakened military and national defense apparatus mark a shift in Stockholm’s strategic calculus. No longer content to regard Russia’s actions as the dying murmurs of a fading power, and no longer able to call upon a large, well-equipped standing force and capable reserve system with which to guarantee its sovereignty, Sweden’s political leadership has little choice but to revisit the national security approach.

The country’s next five-year Defense Bill (covering 2021-2025) should speak volumes about that approach.

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[*] posted on 29-9-2017 at 04:39 PM


Swedish-Finnish Cooperation Reaches New Heights

(Source: Swedish Armed Forces; issued Sept 27, 2017)

During the Armed Forces exercise Aurora 17, the Hagshult air base is playing a key role, and providing the basis for a further boost to Swedish-Finnish defence cooperation.

In many respects, Aurora 17 is a unique Swedish defence exercise. With 19,000 participants from a total of nine countries, it is the largest Swedish defence exercise since 1993, and for the first time since then all armed services are exercising together – at sea, on land and in the air.

For some weeks, things have been happening across southern and central Sweden, and little Hagshult, outside Värnamo, is no exception. The 172nd Fighter Squadron from the Blekinge Air Wing, F17, is based here with six Jas 39 Gripen aircraft to defend Sweden against a heavily armed attack. To help them, they have a unit from Finland, 31 Fighter Squadron, with five majestic F-18 Hornet aircraft.

INDEPENDENT OPERATIONS

The Swedish squadron occupies one end of the Hagshult base, the Finnish squadron the other. From a strategically defended location, well inland, they are fighting side by side and facing the enemy over the Baltic Sea, in various scenarios thrown at them by the Swedish exercise control.

“Our operational effectiveness is good,” says the Finnish contingent commander and pilot, Tomi Böhm. “Our reception here at Hagshult has been excellent and virtually everything has worked flawlessly from day one.”

The Finnish unit is acting in the air defence role and flies from early morning until 9.00pm in the evenings. The Swedes have a somewhat wider role, which includes night flying as well as engaging targets at sea.

“At the beginning of the exercise, we generally synched with the Finns, but since then we’ve dealt with our respective tasks independently. I am impressed that we now have a Finnish unit so well integrated into our system,” says Swedish squadron commander and pilot Jörgen Axelsson.

CHALLENGES

Swedish and Finnish operating methods and thinking are not fundamentally different, but there are still challenges. Sharing a common situational picture is new for Aurora 17. And for a foreign unit to have access to Swedish classified information and Swedish orders from the Air Component Commander, requires preparation and rigorous procedures. Everything must work and comply fully with Swedish regulations.

At F17 in Ronneby, preparation work began as far back as spring 2016. All issues, large and small, have been thoroughly analysed.

“Before the exercise we conducted two reconnaissance visits to the base in Hagshult with the Finns. Any challenges we encountered have been resolved through good dialogue and the right technical support,” says Hans Evefalk, area exercise leader.

A simple but telling example of the challenges faced is related to the size of the Finnish aircraft. The two-engine beasts carry significantly more fuel than Gripen, which, among other things, puts new demands on fuel supply at the base. The weight of the aircraft also means longer take-off and landing distances. In Finland, there is a wire at the end of the runways that “catches” the aircraft if – for any reason – it’s not going to stop in time. At Hagshult this is not the case and, instead, it was decided to clearly mark distances on the runway. So, on landing, pilots can easily determine how much runway they have left, and – if necessary – take off again, if they’ve come too far to stop in time.

FULL CONTROL

Now that the exercise has started, there are routines for everything – including how orders are distributed and dealt with, how transport is coordinated, and the location of all personnel at any given time. Base Commander, Patricia Wall gives a good example of the effective organisation on this temporarily established base.

“We had an alert the other day and quickly had to account for all personnel belonging to the base. Within 40 minutes we had a complete picture of exactly where close to 800 people were located. In addition to food, accommodation, sanitation, logistics, and a range of equipment maintenance and information flows, security is of the utmost importance on the base. Personal security takes pride of place, but materiel must also be protected.

“You can’t have aircraft worth billions, bombs worth millions, personnel with years of training – and not protect them”, says Kjell Eriksson, deputy commander in the command team.

Therefore, the Home Guard, who form a large part of the guard force, play a very important role on the exercise.

NEXT STEP

Both the Swedish and Finnish squadrons operate primarily along the Swedish east coast. They also cooperate with fighter aircraft from F17 in Ronneby and F7 in Såtenäs.

The Finnish squadron has undertaken to conduct six sorties over the course of 16 hours each day. This requires the technicians to work both day and night.

“The base was well prepared and our reception was well organised, so everything has worked very well for us,” says Jukka Muhonen, who is in charge of maintenance of the Finnish aircraft. “We are fully established in the area we have been allocated.”

He explains further that they have brought 10-15 containers of equipment and spare parts by truck from Finland. This also includes their mobile command post. “Once on site, we borrow a tow truck from the Swedes. Armaments, which are mostly unarmed Sidewinder and AMRAAM missiles, have mainly been transported mounted on the aircraft. Everything has gone smoothly, which is also the case on the Swedish side.”

“You can reflect on how smoothly things actually work, despite the complexity of what we do,” says Patricia. “We pack up our equipment, which arrives at the new location on a Sunday. Then the aircraft arrive on Tuesday – and we’re up and running.”

She is full of appreciation for her personnel.

“From private soldier to company commander – they all know their job and are very professional, even now towards the end of the exercise when fatigue has begun to set in.

Aurora 17 has given both Swedish and Finnish units a taste for more. Sweden and Finland have exercised together before, and for some time now have increased their military cooperation year on year, not least because of common political goals and decisions.

The Finnish Contingent Commander, Tomi Böhm, is pleased with the progress made during Aurora 17, and that Finland has now been integrated into Swedish air defence for the first time.

“It would be great if we can make further progress next time we cooperate, he says. I hope then that we’ll then have the opportunity to contribute with our ground-attack capability.

The Finnish Air Force visited Sweden during the Air Force’s exercise in Visby in 2016. Then they played a role where they attacked Swedish air defences.

“This time we’re the good guys,” says Tomi Böhm.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 29-11-2017 at 08:06 PM


Berlin Security Conference 2017: Sweden states case for increased European defence co-operation in face of growing and evolving threats

Gareth Jennings - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

28 November 2017


A Gripen fighter of the Swedish Air Force departs on an air defence sortie at a time when Europe is facing its greatest security challenges since the end of the Cold War. Source: Swedish Air Force

Europe must maintain its unity and solidarity if it is to head off the greatest challenges that it has faced since the end of the Cold War, a senior Swedish minister said on 28 November.

Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference at which Sweden is this year’s partner nation, the country’s defence minister said that regional instability, mass migration, terrorism, and the issue of Brexit and the rise of populist tendencies on the continent are all issues that Europe must now face up to together.

“Nearly all of Sweden’s security problems are those of the EU as well,” said Peter Hultqvist who has been Sweden’s defence minister since October 2014, adding, “No European state can face these problems alone. We need unity and co-operation – EU solidarity is the key!”

With the theme of the 16th annual congress of European security being ‘Europe under pressure; security and defence in unpredictable times’, Hultqvist noted that a “provocative” Russia has lowered the threshold of force through its actions in Georgia in 2008, in Crimea in 2014, and in eastern Ukraine today. “Over the last few years Russia has embarked on a major modernisation of its armed forces,” he said. “That it now spends 5% of its GDP on defence sends a very clear message of priorities.”

Hultqvist said that Europe’s response must be “clear and long-term”, and that it must stand up for the international rule-of-law and for the rules-based world order through the EU, NATO (of which Sweden is a Partnership for Peace [PfP] nation), and the trans-Atlantic partnership with the United States.

For its part, Hultqvist noted that Sweden has approved its largest defence budget in more than 20 years, with a EUR2.6 billion (USD3 billion) investment in defence to 2020. The country has also recently reinstated conscription into its armed forces, with the first conscripts set to arrive at their units in January 2018.

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[*] posted on 14-12-2017 at 09:00 PM


Sweden to re-establish military unit on Baltic Sea island

By: The Associated Press   16 hours ago

HELSINKI — Sweden says it is establishing the nation’s first new military regiment since World War II — a unit of 350 soldiers that will be based on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland.

The Swedish government on Wednesday said the permanent unit will be deployed to the strategically important island’s main town, Visby, during 2018.

Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said the decision was made due to a “worsened security situation” in the Baltic Sea region, where Russia has increased military operations since its 2014 annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine involving Russian-backed separatists.

Hultqvist says the move means re-establishing Sweden’s military presence on the island that is popular with tourists.

Gotland, population 58,000, first housed an infantry regiment in 1886. The garrison was dismantled in 2005.
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[*] posted on 19-12-2017 at 03:54 PM


Defence Forces File Criminal Complaint Over Newspaper's Intelligence Story

(Source: Finnish Broadcasting Corp., YLE; issued Dec 16, 2017)

The Finnish Defence Forces' Defence Command has filed a criminal complaint regarding the disclosure of security intelligence data to Finland's most widely-read newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat. The paper featured a story on a top secret intelligence research centre on Saturday

The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat ran a feature story on Saturday, December 16 that shed some light on the Defence Forces' Intelligence Research Centre (Viestikoekeskus), whose operations have been shrouded in mystery in Finland. President Sauli Niinistö released a statement the same day saying that the leak of the classified security information can be considered a criminal offense.

"The disclosure of highly classified security intelligence documents is a critical affront to our security and can cause serious damage," the President's statement reads.

Defence Minister agrees

Finland's Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö – no relation to the President – told Yle later in the day that the charge is a serious matter.

"I'm not aware of the full scale of the leak, but what we read in Helsingin Sanomat this morning – the fact that the newspaper published highly classified documents – is always a serious issue, as it can have an impact on national security and Finland's relations with other countries," he said.

He says Finland's Defence Command has submitted a request for a criminal investigation of the leak to the National Bureau of Investigation. He also clarified that the Defence Forces were already aware that the leak had taken place.

"Today the Defence Command expanded its investigation inquiry to include the journalists involved in the leak of the classified data. The Defence Forces are working in accordance with the law, but is Helsingin Sanomat? That is the question," the minister said to Yle.

Rule of law

The Defence Minister says the purpose of the investigation is to determine if a felony has occurred.

"If an illegal act is determined to have taken place, the crime must be sanctioned. This is how things are done in a country that observes the rule of law," Minister Niinistö said.

MP Ilkka Kanerva heads Finland's parliamentary defence committee. He says that the leak demands an investigation, but also calls attention to a need for better protection of classified data in cyberspace.

Kanerva says the leak will also likely substantially affect parliamentary preparation of amendments to Finland's intelligence laws, which are scheduled to commence in early 2018.

HS editor replies

Esa Mäkinen, editor at Helsingin Sanomat, explained in a column late Saturday afternoon that the newspaper decided to make the data public in line with its primary duty to inform.

"The most important task of the media is to monitor and control the activities of the authorities. HS is responsible for supplying its readers with sufficient truthful information about what is happening in society," he wrote.

The editor makes the case that the residents of Finland, and even its MPs, know very little about the centre that was reported on in the article, and so the paper felt compelled to share the data it had obtained.

Mäkinen wrote in his column that "if you want to say more than the official data, you have to rely on classified information".

He also points out that as intelligence agencies in Finland are now being granted larger operational scopes, it falls to the media to keep even closer track of their activities.

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[*] posted on 28-12-2017 at 12:59 PM


Sweden would militarily back allies, but expects the same in return, says defense report

By: Gerard O'Dwyer   11 hours ago

HELSINKI — Nonaligned Sweden stands ready to provide military support to Nordic and European Union partner nations who may come under attack, according to a new strategic report focusing on so-called total defense and submitted by the Swedish Defence Commission to the Swedish government.

Moreover, Sweden would expect EU and Nordic partner nations to come to its assistance if the country’s sovereignty is at risk. The report, titled ”Resilience,” underscores the need to build a strong defense capability based on increased spending on integrated national defense systems and critical infrastructure.

The cost estimate for the Swedish Defence Commission’s proposals to strengthen the country’s defense amounts to $502 million per year over the 2021-2025 period. The commission serves as a policy development council, shaping defense and security-related legislative proposals to the Riksdag, Sweden’s national parliament.

The commissions’s concluding analysis, according to the report, is that “the global security situation is characterized by instability and unpredictability.”

“Sweden will not remain passive if another EU Member State or Nordic country suffers a disaster or an attack. We expect these countries to take similar action if Sweden is affected. Sweden should therefore be in a position to both give and receive civil and military support,” the report says.

Significantly, the report concedes Sweden is unlikely to be able to deter an extended attack by a major hostile power on its own. The objective will be to develop an armed forces capability that has the capacity to repel and slow the pace of invasion pending the arrival of military support from partner nations.

To this end, Sweden needs to improve its preparedness and readiness to defend its national borders and independence. “In the extreme situation, the Total Defense must have a credible war fighting capability with both its military and civil defense,” the report says.

“The Total Defense concept will bring strengthening in all areas of defense and society, especially the greater integration of national defense with local and regional-level civil defense tasks and organization,” said Peter Hultqvist, Sweden’s defense minister.

The report details the various national and local command-level measures needed to drive closer integration between armed forces and civil defense capabilities. These are expected to be delivered within the total defense operating strategy. Various joint programs to achieve this goal are set to run in the 2021-2025 time frame.

Additionally, the report underlined the urgent need for Sweden to both develop dynamic, value-added defense intelligence capabilities that strengthen the armed forces’ ability to conduct effective defensive and offensive tasks and missions within the cyber domain of future threats.

The Swedish Defence Commission’s next major task will be to deliver a comprehensive assessment of the regional and global security situation, said the commission’s chairman, Björn von Sydow. This report will examine potential effects and consequences for Sweden’s defense and security policies.

“This report is due by mid-May 2019, and it will constitute an important basis for the government’s next defense bill in 2020,” von Sydow said.
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[*] posted on 1-2-2018 at 08:05 PM


NATO report highlights increased Kremlin StratCom focus on Sweden and Finland

Bruce Jones, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

31 January 2018

A high-level NATO report covering the strategic communications (StratCom) environment in northern Europe, released on 25 January, highlights an increased Kremlin focus on non-alliance members Sweden and Finland, in order to prevent Sweden’s closer association with NATO and both countries’ convergence in defence.

The 110-page report by NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga, Latvia, analyses strategic communications directed at the eight Nordic and Baltic states over the last two years.

The document notes that the security services of countries bordering Russia have reported increases in intelligence gathering on political, economic, and security as well as social issues, rather than industrial or military developments.

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[*] posted on 3-2-2018 at 01:22 PM


Submarine Chief Warns Sweden Has Only Two Operational Submarines But Needs At Least Six

(Source: Swedish Radio; posted Feb 02, 2018)

(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)

Sweden needs six to seven submarines, but only two are now operational, warns the commander of the Swedish Navy’s First Submarine Flotilla. "The system is vulnerable system," he says.

In the forthcoming issue of the Officerstidningen, the Swedish Officers’ magazine, Mats Agnéus, head of the first submarine flotilla in Karlskrona, states that Sweden has too few submarines. Only two out of four Swedish submarines are operational, as the other two are on schedule for planned modernization.

"We can solve the task as much as we can with what we have. But it's a vulnerable system, "he told the Officerstidningen.

"Cannot do enough"

He says the navy needs six to seven submarines. The most important task of the fleet is intelligence retrieval. The fleet should also be able to carry out other missions and be able to combat both surface and underwater targets.

"Our leader are aware that there will be an adjustment with two submarines. We cannot do enough.”

The first of the modernized submarines of Gotland class will be operational again in December 2018. The second submarine is expected to be operational in December 2019.

12 submarines 30 years ago

Politicians have decided that the Armed Forces will have four submarines, and the first two submarines of the new A26 class have been ordered. A fifth one has been proposed by Parliament’s defense committee, but it has been neither politically approved nor funded.

"It is clear that 30 years ago we had twelve submarines. Are today's submarines so much more efficient, so that four can do the same job as twelve? No, probably not, Agnéus told Officerstidningen.

Two of Sweden’s Gotland-class submarines are out of operation for modernization. Engines, combat management and connection systems are updated, and a diver lock is being added, according to Officerstidningen.

Security policy expert Robert Dalsjö at the Total Defense Research Institute (FOI) agrees with the submarine flotilla commander that the politicians have decided for a few submarines.

But it is also a matter of where the submarines have their base, and of the number of crews that can staff them, so that a certain number of submarines can be at sea at all times, he says.

"With a large number of submarines and enough crews, you could base half of the submarines in the Muskö base, you would be able to deploy one submarine in the northern Baltic and one in the southern Baltic," says Robert Dalsjö.

However, the submarines and crews that were based on Muskö outside Nynäshamn were moved to Karlskrona, in southern Sweden, in 2004.

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[*] posted on 6-2-2018 at 03:50 PM


Finland seeks $730 million in naval weapons from US

By: Aaron Mehta   1 hour ago


Finland intends to procure the Evolved Seasparrow Missiles (ESSM) from Raytheon, seen here, as well as the Boeing Harpoon missile. The goal is to enhance Finland's navy. (Raytheon)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department has cleared a pair of first-time missile sales for Finland’s navy that could top $730 million in total.

The announcement comes as Finland, concerned with actions from neighboring Russia, is looking to increase its defense spending. While not a NATO member, Finland has made moves to increase ties with its European allies following Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea – moves that have led Russia to pre-emptively threaten its neighbor if it takes more concrete steps to join the military alliance.

The packages were announced Monday by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Announced weapon sales are not final; members of the Senate can now object if they wish, and then negotiations will begin between Finland and the U.S. on final prices and amounts of equipment.

The first package covers 68 Evolved Seasparrow Missiles (ESSM) and one ESSM inert operational missile, along with associated parts and technical expertise, with an estimated cost of $112.7 million. These weapons are for use on Finland’s new Squadron 2020 class Corvette ships.

The second package, which comes with an estimated price tag of $622 million, covers a mix of surface launched Harpoon weapons, which will go on Finland’s Hamina class ships, Multirole Corvette ships, and Coastal Batteries.

Included in this package are 100 RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II Plus Extended Range (ER) Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles, 12 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles, 12 RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER Grade B Surface-Launched Upgrade Kits, four RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Exercise Surface-Launched Missiles, and four RTM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER Grade B Exercise Surface-Launched Missiles.

It is the first time Finland has purchased either weapon, according to the DSCA notification. The notification states that the weapons will be used to provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lanes, a growing concern for NATO members.

Work on the ESSM package will be done at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona, for the missiles, and BAE Systems in Aberdeen, South Dakota, for the missile canisters. On the Harpoon package, work will be done by Boeing’s St. Louis factory. In both cases, DSCA expects there will be commercial offsets required.
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[*] posted on 22-2-2018 at 06:30 PM


Inquiry on Swedish Armed Forces’ Long-Term Equipment Needs Presented

(Source: Swedish Ministry of Defence; issued Feb 20, 2018)

On 20 February, the Government’s Inquiry Chair Ingemar Wahlberg presented his report on the Swedish Armed Forces’ long-term equipment needs. The Inquiry’s remit included conducting an analysis of the Swedish Armed Forces’ equipment needs and presenting proposals on priority and efficiency measures, both within and beyond allocated financial frameworks.

The Inquiry was appointed on 14 December 2016 as part of the 2015 defence policy agreement. The defence group, which consisted of representatives of the five parties that initially supported the defence agreement, wanted to have the Swedish Armed Forces' equipment needs assessed and prioritised by an independent inquiry in a transparent manner. The Inquiry was also to present proposals on how to increase efficiency regarding supply and procurement of equipment.

Within the current budget frames the Inquiry proposes increased in-service support and equipment maintenance of equipment as well as procurement of additional equipment such as personal equipment, standard vehicles and reinforced logistics and an activation of air defence units from the reserve.

The Inquiry also highlights which prioritised equipment needs could be met in the period 2021–2030 should the Riksdag take a decision to increase the defence budget.

The Inquiry's report will serve as the basis of future work by the Government and the Defence Commission ahead of the decision on the direction of defence policy for the period after 2020.

Click here for the report’s summary in English (6 PDF pages), on the Swedish Government website.

http://www.government.se/492373/globalassets/government/doku...

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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 09:38 AM


Perspective Study On How Defense Should Develop Until 2035

(Source: Swedish Defense HQ; issued Feb 23, 2018)

(Issued in Swedish; unofficial translation by Defense-aerospace.com)

Today's defense forces do not meet the changing world-wide development. It is stated in the perspective study, the final report prepared by the Armed Forces to describe how a Swedish defense should look 2035 in order to meet the challenges of the future with reasonable risk-taking.

The study provides suggestions on what decisions need to be taken in the near future and how growth by 2035 should begin. In a first step, the current organization must be further staffed, equipped and practiced. Then the Armed Forces need to grow both in volume and with new skills to strengthen endurance, says Communications Director Marcela Sylvander.

In order for the Armed Forces to defend Sweden in 2035, more warfare, new equipment and new capabilities are required. For example, more army brigades, corvettes, submarines and fighter aircraft are needed, as well as increased resources for management and logistics. In addition, increased efforts in cyber and intelligence, unmanned systems and long-range precision control are also needed.

The reasons why the defense needs to be further developed are several. The global development is unpredictable. Through its actions in Georgia and Ukraine, Russia has shown that they do not hesitate to use military force. They also plan to increase their military capabilities after 2020. Further reasons are that society's vulnerability to stress increases and warfare targets society as a whole.

To deal with uncertainties in the gray zone between war and peace, the Armed Forces must both be able to carry out lasting defense operations on their own territory and be able to influence an attacker early, independently or together with others.

"We need to increase the number of employees already in order to develop the organization and increase military capabilities by 2035. To address greater uncertainty and increased demands for endurance, the Armed Forces need to increase accessibility in some war relations with more full-time employees," said Marcela Sylvander.

The study also notes that the total defense is becoming increasingly important for the defense of Sweden and helps to increase the Armed Forces ability.

(ends)

Swedish Military Cites Russian Expansionism in Bid to Boost Spending

(Source: Radio Free Europe; issued Feb 23, 2018)

Sweden's military has cited an increasingly assertive Russia in a request to parliament for a major increase in the Nordic country's defense spending.

The armed forces said in a report to lawmakers on February 23 that Sweden needs to more than double its annual military spending to 115 billion Swedish crowns ($14 billion) by 2035 from about 50 billion crowns currently.

Military leaders also called for doubling the number of active personnel to about 120,000.

The report cited Moscow's planned increase in military spending and aggressive foreign policy as reasons to boost Sweden's defense outlays.

"Russia has, through its action in Georgia in 2008, as well as in the Crimea and in east Ukraine in 2014, showed that it does not hesitate to use military force to achieve its political goals," the report said.

Russia seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in a war that has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

Russia fought Georgia in a brief war in 2008, and Moscow has backed separatists in breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Sweden is not a NATO member but has participated in military drills with member states. Some in the country have raised the issue of Sweden joining the alliance, a move that would be certain to anger Moscow.

The report by the military comes a day after the Swedish Security Service warned of potential meddling by Moscow in the September general elections and said that "Russian espionage constitutes the greatest security threat" against the country.

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[*] posted on 15-3-2018 at 12:10 PM


Fortress Sweden: Inside the plan to mobilize Swedish society against Russia

By: Aaron Mehta   6 hours ago

VIDEO at source: https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/03/14/fortres...

If you're a NATO member and you're attacked, other members will come to your aid. For nonmember Sweden, this doesn't apply, and so it has plans to mobilize the entire country if attacked by Russia.

WASHINGTON — Roughly 220 miles of ocean separates Sweden from the heavily militarized Russian port of Kaliningrad. The country’s long, narrow shape leaves it vulnerable to air assault from multiple sides. And Sweden, along with neighboring Finland, are in the unique position as the only non-NATO aligned nations on the Baltic Sea.

Hence, the nation spent the Cold War years preparing to fend for itself against a great power invasion, drawing up plans for how to mobilize the entirety of the civilian population and infrastructure to defend its territory. And then the Soviet Union collapsed, a new era of peace dawned and those plans were left to fall fallow.

Now, Sweden is looking to change that.

A landmark commission formed in early 2017 is laying the groundwork to revitalize Sweden’s “total defense” concept, which would see the country ready to use all aspects of Swedish life to push back an invasion from an unspecified foreign adversary — but one that sounds suspiciously like Europe’s biggest bogeyman in Moscow.

In an exclusive interview with Defense News during a recent visit to Washington, Defence Commission head Bjorn von Sydow and commission secretariat chief Tommy Akesson explained their vision for revitalizing Sweden’s defense infrastructure — one they believe must enable the country to hold out against a major invasion for three months.

“When we say civil defense, we mean all civil activities in society, including medical care, including shelters of course, including private companies, everything. Local communities and all their obligations,” Akesson said. “It’s a total mobilization of the country and planning for how to put all forces in society in the direction of solving, in the worst case, a military attack.”

The commission was initially tasked only with providing a final report by May 2019, but decided to go ahead and release a six-page interim report late last year in order to provide the public and allies insight into their initial thoughts — and, von Sydow acknowledged, to let any potential, unnamed adversaries know that an invasion of Swedish territory will be costly.

“Sweden was famous for this during the Cold War, with very elaborate and detailed plans, down to how parking garages were designed so you could use them as shelters,” said Magnus Nordenman of the Atlantic Council. “Talking about it [now] sends a signal they realized the challenge and are doing something about it.”

The report estimates that between 2021 and 2025, Sweden will need to invest 4.2 billion krona (U.S. $510.5 million) per year on its total defense proposals. While not a major spend by American defense levels, that is a serious investment for Sweden, especially considering it is additional money on top of what the country intends to invest in its armed forces.

In the meantime, von Sydow has about 400 million krona per year in 2018, 2019 and 2020 to invest in total defense developments. That culminates with a major exercise, tentatively planned for the year 2020, involving all aspects of the total defense concept — in essence, a trial run incorporating the entire nation.

Where do those funds go? A lot will go toward infrastructure, such as building new shelters and depots. Other funds will go toward developing new technologies needed to defend the homeland. And part of it will be spent on training to resist propaganda efforts and fake news spread via social media. That latter point is something von Sydow said was important because part of the commission’s requirement is not just to defend the homeland, but to defend the democratic principles that are vital to the nation.

“Ultimately the protection of democracy and political process is viewed as a core national interest,” said Erik Brattberg with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “That is part of defense and total defense. It’s not just about making sure people have electricity and food. It’s also about making sure societal values, principles and norms” exist.

A potential complication is the upcoming September general elections in Sweden, which could reshape the ruling coalition that has thrown its support behind the concept. However, von Sydow expressed his belief that enough parties back moving forward with the commission’s work, so whichever party ends up on top will not look to undo the commission’s progress.


U.S. Marines communicate with other amphibious assault vehicles during BALTOPS, an annual multinational exercise designed to improve interoperability, enhance flexibility, and demonstrate the resolve of allied and partner nations to defend the Baltic region. (MC1 America A. Henry/U.S. Navy)

Three months and one week

Early in the process, the commission seized on two key principals: that it would take Sweden’s military a week to be fully mobilized, and that it would take three months before allied ground forces would be able to arrive in force to assist Sweden in protecting its territory.

On the first point, von Sydow said it is a simple reality that to mobilize the entire nation would take time. For that week, civilians would have to fend for themselves as best they can — something he described as having been calmly received by the Swedish public.

The second point is perhaps more controversial, in that it’s based not on policy but on a mix of historic studies and conversations with allies. Because Sweden is not part of NATO, any military action would have to come from a coalition of willing allies.

And while friends to Sweden may respond with air power or nonmilitary actions such as sanctions, getting a military force on the ground to retake territory claimed by Russia would take time. That is especially complicated if one assumes a military intervention in Sweden would likely occur with Russia pushing into several other nations at the same time, creating a crisis across Europe.

“It was made clear, even more clear for us, exposed by sources I do not want to tell you about, that basically it would be within the scope of NATO or NATO countries; they would take at least this time to deploy contributions,” von Sydow said, adding the commission has briefed several allied nations, as well as NATO proper.

Nordenman thinks both time frames are accurate reads on the situation, pointing out that citizens in the U.S. have had to fend for themselves for a week or more following natural disasters.

As to the three-month gap, he calls it “not a bad assumption to use,” largely due to broad concerns about how slowly a NATO-based coalition can spin into action.

“There is growing recognition, even in NATO circles, that under current arrangements, it will be a while before we’re in a position to defend anyone in northern Europe,” Nordernman said.

Brattberg sees a silver lining to the commissions’ three-month conclusion: that Sweden does expect assistance to come eventually, even if it takes time. He points to a series of recent bilateral agreements between Sweden and other nations, including the U.S. and Finland, as perhaps fueling that.

Finland in particular provides a unique viewpoint, as it, too, has a total defense plan. But unlike Sweden, it never dismantled that plan after the Cold War.

In a recent interview, Finnish Defence Policy Director-General Janne Kuusela told Defense News he wouldn’t put a similar timeline for when aid might come, but acknowledged that his country has to plan to take care of itself in case of an invasion.

“It’s not going to be an easy walk to try and invade us,” Kuusela said. “Any potential aggressor has to think about that twice before entering Finland.”

Ultimately, the goal of the Swedish commission is to get to that point, as well, but the question of time is now a factor. The commission’s plans call for Sweden’s total defense concept to be up and running by 2025, a long time given how quickly geopolitics have shifted in recent years.

“Give us time, give us plans, give us exercises, give us people, and we can do” what is needed, von Sydow said. “We need time, but we will do as much as possible.”
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[*] posted on 15-3-2018 at 12:16 PM


Sweden’s plan to deter a Russian digital attack

By: Aaron Mehta   6 hours ago

What does "total defense" mean for Sweden? In the case of an attack on the country, it plans to mobilize the population and industry for all domains of warfare, including cyber.

WASHINGTON — As Sweden seeks to revitalize its “total defense” concept, it will rely heavily on its private technology industry to develop new protections from cyberattacks.

The blueprint, which would see the entirety of Sweden activated to repel an invasion, was laid out by Defence Commission head Bjorn von Sydow and commission secretariat chief Tommy Akesson during a February interview with Defense News.

While Sweden had plans throughout the Cold War to militarize the nation in case of an attack, government officials let those plans expire as the country’s relationship with Russia changed. That means leaders have a system to build on as they develop a new strategy.

But there is a vital area the old plans never had to account for: cyberwarfare, which is expected to become an early focus for the commission.

“The cyber challenges were not known 25 years ago. They were even less taken care of by the system. So we need time,” von Sydow said.

He acknowledged it’s logical to assume digital strikes against infrastructure and the power grid would be the first move in any aggression by a great power. That could be particularly crippling to the civilian population if any attack came in winter. Imagine going days without heat or electricity with temperatures well below freezing.

Sweden doesn’t have to look far to see what damage could come from a digital-first strike. Estonia, located a short distance away, was infamously hit with a major cyberattack that crippled the government in 2007. And in 2015, Ukraine’s power grid was shut down via cyberattack; since then, other utilities have been taken offline. In both cases, analysts believe Russia was behind the attacks, and hence they can be seen as a preview of the kinds of activities that could come at the start of a Russian military action.

“Sweden is like the U.S., a tremendously digitalized country,” von Sydow said. “In some areas, you would probably not be able to open a door without the digital performance. If electricity is out, or at least out and in, it would probably [have] tremendous effects.”

Magnus Nordenman of the Atlantic Council agrees Sweden is vulnerable to this kind of assault, as it is one of the most wired-in countries in the world. “On a good day, it’s very efficient,” Nordenman said. “But also, potentially, it’s exposed in a crisis.”

As a result, Akesson said, the commission is working with the government to craft new regulations for cybersecurity in private sector companies, as well as driving toward greater investment in military cyber capabilities.

“We see it more or less as a military instrument, and we will see how much we invest. Generally speaking, we are quite good at cyber things in Sweden. We have a lot of companies and engineers and people thinking about those issues,” Akesson noted.

Sweden is home to a vibrant technology scene. Music-streaming giant Spotify is based out of Stockholm, as is the business software company Wrapp. Outside of the city, Facebook selected the coastal town of Luleå as home to its its first data center outside the United States.

In Western countries, it can sometimes be a challenge to align the private sector with the government. Generally, the tech community has resisted top-down orders from the government, and famously avoids working on some projects because of stringent regulations and intellectual property requirements.

But Erik Brattberg with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace suspects the domestic cyber industry won’t raise objections to working on new security standards or assisting the government with emergency preparations.

“In Sweden, there is a high trust of the government,” he said. “I would think companies are happy to try and play their role, as well. They recognize it is of their interest to be helpful, ultimately.”

To get a sense how cyber total defense might work, Sweden simply has to look next door to Finland, which never drew down its total defense plan and has worked to integrate cyber capabilities into its strategy.

“Not too long ago I read the research that Finnish networks were the best-protected in the world, and that’s [not only] because of what defense is doing, but because we have a very good level of that industry in Finland,” Finnish Defence Policy Director-General Janne Kuusela told Defense News during a recent visit to Washington.

“The interaction is already there. And we benefit a lot from having people who worked in this domain, in their civilian lives, so they are reservists and bring a lot of additional knowledge and interaction for the defense goals for us. It’s a good way of dealing with this.”

Whether Sweden can find the level of cyber resiliency it needs remains to be seen, but the Defence Commission intends to ensure resources are available. The current plan suggests that between 2021 and 2025, Sweden will need to invest 4.2 billion krona (U.S. $510.5 million) per year on its total defense proposals.
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[*] posted on 23-3-2018 at 06:24 PM


Look Without Being Seen

(Source: Swedish FMV; Issued March 21, 2018)

(Issued in Swedish; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)


Three different kinds of passive sensor are placed in a star form with a central receiver station in the middle. Connected by microchip or optical cable, the devices can locate a target by triangulation and even identify it. (FMV image)

FMV conducts a demonstration of a so-called passive sensor system. On a screen two points are visible. By rapidly analyzing the combination of signals emitted from the aircraft, it appears that there are two JAS 39 that come low from the north along the coast at low altitudes.

On the screens that are set up in a lesson room at the air-defense regiment in Halmstad, every flight is seen across southern Sweden and Denmark. Even the ships around the coasts are visible on the screens.

"We are doing this demonstration to raise awareness of how this kind of so-called passive sensors for air and sea monitoring work," says Carl Fischerström, who coordinates the demonstration.

“We want to acquire more knowledge of passive sensor systems in order to make the right assessments on how to assemble the future sensor system for air monitoring,” says FMV’s Carl Fischerström.

The same position of air and sea “targets” is today obtained from the radar chains that the Armed Forces operate along the coasts, so why has FMV invited a Czech company to conduct a demonstration of its sensor system?

"The special thing about passive systems is that they are difficult to detect for the opponent. They only listen, while radar systems send out signals that are reflected against the object, making them easier to knock out. We and the Armed Forces need to know more how to assemble future sensor components to create an operational ability that can match a possible opponent,” says Carl Fischerström.

Triangulation gives the position

With three sensors positioned to form a star with a central antenna in the middle, it is possible to determine the direction, distance and height of the vehicle. This is done by the so-called TDOA technology which measures time differences in the received signals.

Lars Carlsson is a system engineer at FMV. He finds that a conventional radar is easier to find and knock out. While passive technology, a form of signal tension, can see without being seen. This provides improved opportunities for survival on the battlefield.

"You can measure as little time differences as down to 3 nanoseconds, and it allows the system to identify the position of the object in all three dimensions, even though the sensors are not so far apart," says Lars Carlsson, System Engineer at FMV.

Nosradarn, radio and Link 16 in a fighter aircraft are examples of emitters that provide signals that the passive sensor system may perceive. It is not enough to track the aircraft, but it is possible to identify what kind of aircraft it is.

“A database of transmission frequencies and pulse frequencies of emitters helps the operator identify the aircraft,” says Carl Fischerström. “You can also enter each individual emitter and draw conclusions about what mission the aircraft may have.”

Future road selection

In front of the screens, Miroslav Cerny has 30 years of experience in the continuous development of the passive sensor system. He points on the screen saying that there is an air tank in Denmark there over there.

"This is really no new technology, but modern signal processing, a library of information about emitters that the system itself creates, and fast IT processors have made it efficient and user-friendly," says Lars Carlsson.

FMV is now conducting a number of demonstrations of the system for invited guests in the defense sector as part of knowledge-building on passive sensor systems.

"It will give us better prerequisites for developing ground for choice of future sensor information systems," says Carl Fischerström.

Facts

-- VERA NG - Passive Sensor System
-- Passive monitoring, early warning
-- Detects electromagnetic energy
-- Tracking targets in two or three dimensions, in real time
-- Range of 400 km
-- Identification of 200 goals simultaneously
-- Initially, a Soviet system further developed by the Czech company ERA Omnipol.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 10-5-2018 at 11:19 AM


Finland, Sweden and US sign trilateral agreement, with eye on increased exercises

By: Aaron Mehta   6 hours ago

WASHINGTON ― Finland, Sweden and the U.S. have signed a new letter pledging to increase the national security relationship between the two nations.

The language in the agreement, signed Tuesday at the Pentagon by U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Swedish Minister of Defence Peter Hultqvist and Finnish Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö, is nonbinding and largely involves big themes as opposed to steady deliverables.

But speaking to Defense News after the signing, both visiting ministers emphasized that this is a starting point for future strengthened relations, and that there will be a particular emphasis on increasing and planning joint exercises.

“We need to work in a deeper way with exercises [in order] to develop interoperability. I think this agreement will make it easier for us to sit down together and plan for that sort of activity,” Hultqvist said. “So I think this is a platform to develop different sort of activities that can make more security and stability in our part of Europe.”

Niinistö called the potential for greater coordination and increased exercises the “most concrete and important part” of the letter, adding that the discussions will have an impact as Finland prepares to host a major exercise with its partners in 2021.

The three nations had previously relied on a series of bilateral agreements tying each other together in loose ways. But the aggressiveness of Russia following the 2014 invasion of Ukraine has driven Sweden and Finland to look to create more formal ties with the U.S.

In comments at the Pentagon, Mattis praised the two European nations for “providing a steady anchor of stability in a region more tense as a result of Russia’s unfortunate, unproductive and destabilizing choices from the Ukraine to Syria.”

“When we speak together like this, we bring a tempering of anyone’s aggressive desires, and I think that is the message here today,” Mattis added.

Among the points called for in the letter are regular trilateral meetings at all levels, including study groups; exchanges of information at all levels; increased “practical cooperation” between the three militaries, including coordinated participation in training and exercises; greater cooperation in multinational operations; and coordination of strategic communications between the countries.

The letter also calls for the three to help drive an “enhancement of the EU-NATO strategic partnership,” a notable line given recent tensions between the European Unoin and NATO member nations around defense issues.

Finland and Sweden are nonaligned countries with NATO, which Washington sees as the core of its European defense interests.

The two nations are active members of the EU and its newly founded Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence, or PESCO, agreement, which American officials have been wary of, in part over fears it could lead to protectionism for European’s defense industry.

Niinistö acknowledged that topic came up during the meeting with Mattis, noting: “PESCO is a topic, I guess, every time when Secretary Mattis meets some European counterpart.”

But the minister said Finland and the U.S. are aligned in their goal to avoid any sort of protectionist bent for European industry from the agreement, as Finland is “practically married” to U.S. defense technology.
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[*] posted on 24-5-2018 at 06:01 PM


Sweden releases to-do list for war

By: Aaron Mehta   16 hours ago


Sweden is preparing for an invasion from a foreign power, in which the entire country will take part. (Anders Wiklund/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON ― As it prepares for the reality of an invasion from a foreign power, Sweden is starting to retrain its citizens on how to survive a long, drawn out siege.

Step one? The release this week of a 20-page brochure, titled “If Crisis or War Comes,” to 4.8 million households in Sweden. The document, which will be translated into 13 different languages and also come in an audio version, is a how-to guide for preparing for a worst-case scenario.

“If we are prepared, both individuals and society as a whole will be better able to withstand severe stresses,” a news release about the brochure reads. “Those of us who live in Sweden need to become better prepared for the consequences of everything from serious accidents, extreme weather and IT attacks to, in the worst-case scenario, war.”

Such information used to be commonplace in Sweden during the Cold War, sometimes distributed on the back of the phone book. In the wake of the 1990s thaw, however, Sweden allowed its homeland defense plans and training to lapse.

Now Stockholm is racing to catch up with an ambitious plan to train the entire nation ― military, civilian and commercial ― to transform overnight into a fortress against a foreign invader.

The new brochure is part of that overall effort. Inside, it contains a mix of survival tips, including a list of food and supplies that should be stored in case of an emergency; an explanation of what three different emergency sirens mean; and a section on how to identify fake news and rumors, encouraging citizens to think critically and check for multiple sources of information before acting on what could be false data.

“In Sweden there is a duty to contribute to total defence. This means that everyone who lives here and is between the ages of 16 and 70 can be called up to assist in various ways in the event of the threat of war and war,” the brochure reads. “Everyone is obliged to contribute and everyone is needed.”

Under the total defense plan that is being established, there are two key timelines: that it would take Sweden’s military a week to be fully mobilized, and that it would take three months before allied ground forces would be able to arrive in force to assist Sweden in reclaiming its territory.

Thematically, the brochure drives home the first point ― that citizens must be prepared to fend for themselves for a period of time while the military mobilizes and switches to a war footing.
Still, the concept is only in the early stages, something Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist acknowledged to Defense News during a recent interview.

“We have a need of money for both military defense and civilian defense, and now we have [a] need of money for total defense,” Hultqvist said. “We have started to build up the Swedish defense forces again. That will be a very long process, and that will take a lot of resources to do that.”
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[*] posted on 5-9-2018 at 10:57 AM


Swedish general election to produce weak minority government, complicating policy-making and posing risk of currency sell-off

Dijedon Imeri - IHS Jane's Intelligence Weekly

04 September 2018


Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson campaigns in Landskrona ahead of the general election. Source: Johan Nilsson/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

- The Swedish general election on 9 September is likely to produce a hung parliament.
- The far-right Sweden Democrat party is expected to achieve the biggest gain, but would be unlikely to form a government because of its inability to secure a political alliance with establishment parties.
- A close poll result would increase the risk of sustained market pressure on the krona due to market fears of political uncertainty.

Event

Sweden is preparing for a general election on 9 September that is likely to result in a fragmented political landscape that will challenge the country’s traditional consensus-driven politics.

Sweden will hold a general election on 9 September. Opinion polls suggest that neither of the traditional centre-left and centre-right coalition blocs will secure a parliamentary majority.

The far-right Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna: SD) is anticipated to gain the most, with its support varying from 18.5% to 24.2%, according to different polls. Nevertheless, IHS-Markit assesses that a mainstream minority government remains the likeliest outcome of the election, with SD continuing to be largely ostracised by the other political parties. The election comes during a period of economic vulnerability as the Swedish exchange rate has come under pressure due to market fears over political uncertainty. Any surprises in the election result will likely result in further weakening of the krona.

The decline of the centre

The current centre-left minority government, comprising the Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna: S) and the Green Party (Miljöpartiet de Gröna: MP), was elected in 2014. It has managed to govern through the tacit parliamentary support of the mainstream centre-right coalition bloc, the Alliance (Alliansen). During this period, Sweden has enjoyed strong economic growth (2.3% GDP growth in 2017) and a 10-year low for the unemployment rate (6.2% in July 2018). However, the refugee crisis in 2015 has shifted much of the public focus towards migration, resulting in a historically low support for S.

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[*] posted on 13-9-2018 at 10:50 AM


New Swedish government advocates for greater defense spending

By: Gerard O'Dwyer   3 hours ago

STOCKHOLM — The Swedish military can expect to see a sizable increase in its annual budget regardless of the composition of the new government that will be formed in the wake of parliamentary elections.

All of the mainstream parties, including the ruling Social Democrats (SDP), the Moderates, the Center, Liberals and the Sweden Democrats’ right-wing nationalist party, campaigned on delivering a stronger national defense and channeling a much higher level of spending to the Swedish Armed Forces over the next 10 years.

"Sweden needs a more resilient national defense capability that is better funded and resourced," said Stefan Löfven, the SDP’s leader and Sweden’s prime minister.

The SDP is hoping to assemble a new government in partnership with the Leftist and Green parties. These three parties secured a 40.8 percent share of the popular vote in the recently concluded September 2018 election.

Löfven’s main challenge is the center-right Alliance group, which includes the Moderates, the Center, Liberals and Christian Democrats. Together, the four Alliance parties won 40.3 percent of the popular vote.

The Alliance is looking to form a new government that excludes both the SDP and the Sweden Democrats.

The Sweden Democrats raised its share of the popular vote to 17.6 percent. All mainstream parties have ruled out forming a coalition that includes the Sweden Democrats.

Defense will be very much on the minds of Sweden’s new government, against a backdrop of an unpredictable Russia and a domestic military that is unable to either fund major new procurement programs or work within the tight parameters of the current budgeting framework.

“Sweden’s national defense has been neglected for decades.

What has happened is shameful. The budget allocated to the armed forces must reflect needs, operational realities and the requirement to replace outdated equipment. The goal should be to raise spending on defense to 2 percent of GDP, the recommended NATO level, inside 10 years,” said Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates and someone being widely tipped to become Sweden’s next prime minister.

The Alliance supports a more ambitious spending plan for the military that would increase the armed forces' budget by $2.3 billion in the 2019-2021 budgetary period.

“The [Swedish Armed Forces] needs to be able to afford to run essential equipment-replacement programs. We need more Army brigades, more fighter aircraft, and among other things an increased cyber defense capacity,” Kristersson said.

Restoring the military’s budget and finances to levels that actually reflect the force’s capability requirements will take time.

The organization’s budget has been in decline since the Cold War era of 1963, when defense spending amounted to 3.68 percent of Sweden’s gross domestic product. Spending as a ratio of GDP had dropped to 1.1 percent by 2015. It currently stands at about 1.03 percent, a historic low.

A force development plan endorsed by the armed forces favors an increase in annual spending on defense to between $7.36 billion and $9 billion by 2025.

In the longer term, and by the year 2035, the military would like to see defense spending rise to more than $12.1 billion. At the same time, the Swedish Armed Forces would be strengthened from the current 50,000 personnel of all ranks to 120,000 by the year 2035.

This proposed new look, improved capability and reinforced organization would comprise at least four brigade-level units, a light infantry special forces regiment, a fleet of 24 surface combat naval vessels and six submarines, eight fighter squadrons, and 120 Gripen combat aircraft.

If you're a NATO member and you're attacked, other members will come to your aid. For nonmember Sweden, this doesn't apply, and so it has plans to mobilize the entire country if attacked by Russia.

The Swedish Armed Forces’ commander in chief, Gen. Micael Bydén, has warned the government and the national parliament’s Committee on Defence that the military will be forced to implement “far-reaching” cost-saving measures if the military fails to secure a substantial increase in its budget after 2019.

“The government has been updated regarding the true state of our capabilities and finances. We will need to engage in additional and wide-ranging cost savings if there is no real improvement in spending going forward,” Bydén said.

Areas provisionally targeted for cost-saving and resource cutbacks by the Swedish Armed Forces include system procurement programs and the Army’s training and exercise operations. Belt-tightening would also likely place greater constraints on the regularity of Air Force flight missions and the Navy’s littoral patrol and ocean water defense activities.

Sweden’s purchase of the Raytheon-made Patriot air and missile defense system from the U.S. government emerged as one program that could be negatively impacted by a lack of defense spending.

Swedish interest in the Patriot increased after the defense missile system was deployed during the military’s Aurora 17 exercises, held in and around the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland in September 2017.

The Patriot system, including missile units, will cost Sweden an estimated $1.2 billion. In August, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told a meeting of the national parliament’s Committee on Defence that Sweden plans to purchase an undisclosed number of missiles at an estimated unit cost of about $5 million.

“The purchase of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system is important given the difficult security situation in Sweden’s neighborhood. Rapid technological developments mean that Sweden faces a mix of threats,” said Joakim Lewin, the head of the FMV’s Army Design Office. The FMV is responsible for materiel sourcing and managing military procurement.

Although the Patriot purchase was advocated by Bydén and the Swedish Armed Forces’ command, it is unclear whether the cost of the acquisition program will be covered within the military’s annual budgeting framework, or through a special project-funding program, which would require the approval of the Riksdag, Sweden’s national parliament.
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[*] posted on 23-9-2018 at 07:45 PM


A Dawn Raid in the Archipelago

On September 23, 2018

By Corporal FriskIn Finland

The day started with what sounded like a rare but not unique message on Twitter by the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, the KRP:

Quote:

The current search by the KRP in the premises of a company located in the Turku Archipelago may attract attention amongst boaters and holidaymakers.


However, the archipelago has seen some interesting developments during the last few years, and the innocent sounding tweet quickly caught the attention of Finnish security wonks. The developments of the day would soon show that the knee-jerk reaction was warranted.

But let’s start from the beginning: Airiston Helmi Oy was founded in 2007 as a non-public stock company for trading in real estate, and a number of the key persons behind the company were Russian nationals. The company has had just a handful of employees, and has consistently been showing figures in the red (as far as I know, it has never managed a single positive year). What has set the company aside from other failing attempts is however that a number of the real estate deals have taken place at strategic locations in the archipelago outside of Turku in southwestern Finland. The main location is Ybbersnäs in Pargas on the Finnish mainland, with another key location being the island of Säckilot............EDITED

See link for the rest of the article.............

https://corporalfrisk.com/2018/09/23/a-dawn-raid-in-the-arch...

It brings up an interesting point or two:

- The GRU has and is, heavily involved in illegal practices.
- There is little separation between Illegal and Little Green Men operations.

Anyways read and enjoy...............
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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 06:52 PM


Finland moves to boost its naval power in the Baltic Sea hotspot

By: Gerard O'Dwyer   2 days ago


Boats of the Finnish Border Guard patrol in the waters off the coast near Helsinki on April 28, 2015. (Jussi Nukari/AFP via Getty Images)

HELSINKI — The increasingly strategic value of the Baltic Sea as a potential theater of military conflict between Russia and NATO is triggering fresh steps by Finland to modernize its naval forces.

Strengthening its presence in the Baltic Sea and protecting its 838-mile-long border with Russia remain two of the core pillars of Finland’s national defense strategy.

The country’s new vision for naval power aims to bolster Finland’s open sea surface warfare and anti-submarine capability in its primary territorial Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia areas.

The reinforcement of Finland’s naval strength in the Baltic Sea is being carried out under the $1.5 billion Squadron 2020 Program. Central to the project is the acquisition of four multirole, ice-breaking submarine-hunter corvettes with requisite weapons and control systems.

The Ministry of Defence has given the Finnish Defence Forces the green light to request final tenders for the Squadron 2020’s ship and combat system.

Three international companies — Saab, Atlas Electronik and Lockheed Martin Canada — have been short-listed as potential suppliers of onboard weapons systems, said Jussi Niinistö, Finland’s defense minister.

“It’s critical that Finland has a modern navy that is fit for purpose. The Baltic Sea has become a possible focal point for tension between East and West. We are dealing with a more unpredictable Russia. Increased military cooperation with partners will also see the Navy more engaged in joint international exercises in the region, especially with our Nordic neighbors and NATO forces,” Niinistö said.

The projected $500 million investment for the ships includes surface-to-surface missiles, torpedoes, ship guns and sea mines. The Navy has already issued contracts to acquire the Israeli Gabriel missile system. The delivery of torpedoes is covered under a separate order placed with Saab.

The contract for the Gabriel weapons was secured with competing bids from MBDA (EXOCET), Kongsberg (NSM), Boeing (Harpoon) and Saab (RBS15). Manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries will make deliveries on the agreement between 2019 and 2025.

Saab will supply its new lightweight torpedo to the Finnish Navy’s midlife upgrade program for Hamina-class fast-attack craft. The on-ship system integration of the torpedoes is being carried out together with Patria, which is the lead contractor on the project.

In July, the MoD authorized the FDFC to purchase the Surface-to-Surface Missile System 2020 (SSM2020). The new system will replace the Navy’s current anti-ship missile system MTO85M, which is set to reach the end of its lifecycle in by mid-2020.

The Navy plans to install the new SSM2020 Missile System on both the new Squadron 2020 class corvettes and its Hamina-class missile vessels.

The four multirole corvettes, which are to be constructed in Finland, will replace the Finnish Navy’s ageing Rauma-class fast-attack missile boats and Hämeenmaa-class minelayers. Both the Rauma-class and Hämeenmaa-class vessels are slated to be decommissioned after 2020.

The FDFC’s next major decision will be to decide which shipyard in Finland secures the contract to build the four naval corvettes.

“Our objective is to enter into contracts for the shipbuilding side of the project, as well as the ships’ combat system, by the end of 2018,” said Maj. Gen. Lauri Puranen, an adviser to the Squadron 2020 Program.

The full impact of the Squadron 2020 Program will give the Finnish Navy a more solid maritime defense backbone after 2025. The new fleet is set to include the new multirole corvettes, an upgraded Hamina-class, fast-attack missile vessel fleet, as well as upgrades to the Navy’s Pansio-class mine-layers and Katanpää-class mine countermeasure vessels.

The FDFC also plans to modernize surface-to-surface missile batteries and coastal units in support of the Squadron 2020 Program. The Navy expects to finalize all elements of the Squadron 2020 modernization program by 2027. This will include the delivery of all four corvettes and the completion of upgrades to existing surface vessels.
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[*] posted on 13-11-2018 at 09:26 AM


Russia Suspected of GPS Jamming During Nato Exercises

(Source: Finnish Broadcasting News, YLE; issued Nov 09, 2018)

On Tuesday Finnish air traffic control officials warned civil aviation about large-scale GPS signal disruptions in northern Finland.

It was the first such notice issued by Finland's state-run Air Navigation Services in an official Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), in which it advised that the disturbances began on Tuesday and continued until midnight on Wednesday.

The warning was visible on the website of Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation.

According to ANS operations director Heikki Isomaa, the warning was prompted by information obtained from sources such as Finland's Defence Forces.

"We have also received information from the Defence Forces. So, we released the information as soon as we got it," Isomaa said in response to a question about whether or not the Defence Forces provided information about the disruptions.

"We've been informed by different sources that GPS signals in northern or northeast Finland could possibly be unreliable. We wanted to get this intelligence to airlines and other aviators for security reasons," Isomaa added.

He said that the warning had been issued for a large area as a safety precaution.

"For safety reasons, we issued it for an expansive enough area so that pilots could be prepared not to rely solely on a GPS," he noted, however he declined to state the source of the disruptions.

Responding to an email query from Yle, Defence Force communications director Colonel Sami Nurmi also refused to comment on the matter, instead referring Yle to Ficora, the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority.

Previous warnings in Norway

Last Friday, the online publication Barents Observer reported on GPS jamming affecting air traffic in northern Norway's Finnmark region.

A warning about possible GPS blocking in the region had been issued at the end of October, when Nato kicked off major military exercises dubbed Trident Juncture in Norway. Finland also participated in the war games, which ended on Wednesday, 7 November.

Meanwhile Norway's aviation warning is still in force and is expected to end on Friday afternoon. Finland's ANS has also published the Norwegian advisory in a bulletin.

The Norwegian advisory covers the Kirkkoniemi airport area near the Finnish and Russian borders and Norwegian authorities have speculated that the disruptions could becoming from Russia.

Additional signal jamming was detected at least one year ago, which Norwegian officials also believed came from Russia.

Ficora in the know

Last autumn Norway's equivalent of Ficora, Nkom, speculated that the GPS disruptions were coming from Russia. At the time, the Finnish agency indicated that it had no knowledge of the matter.

On Monday, Yle emailed Ficora to ask whether or not it knew about Norway's accounts of GPS jamming. On Tuesday the agency responded, saying that it had no information apart from what had been reported in the Barents Observer.

However, on Thursday, Ficora provided additional information upon hearing of the advisory issued by ANS Finland.

Ficora director Jarmo Ilme emailed Yle to say that the agency had received information about the GPS blocking issue, but because no one had reported any problems as a result of unstable signals, it determined that there was no reason to take action.

Officials in Finland and Norway have assured aviators that the GPS signal disruptions will not endanger air traffic, since aircraft have other navigational equipment in addition to the GPS.

According to Isomaa no navigational problems have been reported and the warning has not affected the number of flights operating in Lapland.

(ends)

Finland to Probe Reports of Russia Disrupting GPS During NATO Drill

(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued Nov 11, 2018)

Finland's GPS signal was disrupted during NATO's recent military drills and Russia may have been the culprit, according to Finland's prime minister. The apparent jamming also affected air traffic in Norway.

Pilots in Finland and Norway lost GPS navigation signals during recent NATO's large-scale Trident Juncture exercise near Russia's western border.

Speaking to Finland's public broadcaster Yle on Sunday, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila said that Moscow was likely to blame for the jamming.

"Technology-wise, it's relatively easy to disturb a radio signal, and it's possible that Russia was behind it," he was quoted as saying.

"We will investigate, and then we will respond," he added. "This is not a joke, it threatened the air security of ordinary people."

The 57-year-old Sipila, who is also an experienced pilot, said that the incident would be treated as a breach of Finnish airspace.

The goal of the alleged Russian interference was "to demonstrate the capabilities for such actions," he said.

Looking across the border

The disturbance targeted the Finnish region of Lapland and parts of Norway near the border with Russia.

The regional Widerøe airline confirmed its pilots had experienced GPS disruptions. But it said that pilots aboard civilian planes have several contingency systems to fall back when a GPS signal is lost.

Sipila's comment came four days after NATO forces ended their two-week Trident Juncture exercise. Operations took place in Norway, parts of Finland and Sweden, the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea and involved some 50,000 participants.

Despite Finland not being a NATO member, soldiers from the Scandinavian country also took part in the drill, a decision that angered Moscow. Finland shares a 1,340 kilometer (833-mile) border with Russia.

Last week, Norwegian outlet Barents Observer reported on the loss of GPS signals in parts of Norway's airspace. The Oslo authorities have already accused Russia of disrupting the navigation system during Russia's Zapad-2017 drills.

-ends-
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