Artillery: Sweden Will Stop Them On The Beaches


February 16, 2017: In late 2016 Sweden decided to reactivate a coast artillery battery (using RBS15 anti-ship missile) disbanded in 2000 due to budget cuts. There were originally supposed to be three such batteries but the Cold War was over and the need for coast defense artillery kept diminishing in importance. The revived coast defense battery has three launcher trucks (each carrying four missiles) plus several other trucks for surveillance, control and maintenance. The Swedes are not disclosing details of how targets would be found but that would probably involve integration of data from multiple sources (shore, ship or aircraft radars plus submarine sensors and satellite sensor data (from an allied nation). Knowing the Russian fondness for electronic jamming the Swedes want to make their command and control network as safe as possible.

The RBS15 is a fire and forget anti-ship, sea-skimming, cruise missile developed by Sweden in the early 1980s. It became an export success. The latestt RBS15 Mk3 can also also be used against land targets. The Mk3 is jointly produced by Sweden and Germany. The missile is available in several variants: naval (used by Swedish, Finnish, German and Polish ships), land-based launchers (the coastal battery) or air-launched (currently by Gripen aircraft).

RBS15 is 4.3 meters (13.8 feet) long in length, 500mm in diameter and weighs about 630 kg (800 kg with boosters for land and naval versions). Max range is at least 200 kilometers. Guidance includes GPS (backed by INS) to reach the general target area and radar for detecting, identifying and homing in on the specific target. RBS15 is capable of several evasive maneuvers including re-attack if necessary. All this gives the missile a very high hit probability. The warhead is a 200 kg (440 pound) blast and fragmentation type triggered by delayed impact or proximity fuse function which is enough to cause severe damage for any target, including large warships.

This increased concern for coast defense aspect of growing awareness by the Swedish government that simply increasing the defense budget is not enough. You have to spend the additional money where it will do the most good. Thus increasing coastal security also includes things like restoring the permanent military presence on Gotland Island. The permanent force was withdrawn from Gotland in 2005. The reactivation of RBS coastal missile battery connected with restoration of a permanent military presence on Gotland Island will be also joined by medium air defense system. Sweden plan to choose it in later 2017 (for now only participants in competition are the European SAMP/T and American Patriot).

Sweden is not trying to rebuild its Cold War era force, which had to deal with a Russian military that was five times the size of what Russia now has. During the Cold War Sweden 100,000 active-duty troops backed by a fast and efficient mobilization system that could rapidly deploy even more trained and fully equipped reservists within hours. This time around Sweden is coping with increasingly aggressive Russian behavior. The most visible aspect of this is the revival of Russian military aircraft violating Swedish airspace as they did during the Cold War. Russia conducted simulated air attacks on Sweden in March 2013 and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Russia is also upgrading its force of amphibious ships. --- Przemysław Juraszek


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