Sweden rebuilds Cold War missile system from museums
A test shooting on Gotland on Friday. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces. Sweden has reconstituted its old Cold War anti-ship defence system, pulling launch trucks out of museums, in its latest move to improve its defences on the island of Gotland.
The Kustrobotbatteri 90 was the only land-based launcher ever developed for the Saab Robotsystem 15 (RBS-15) anti-ship missiles, but only one of the four planned batteries was ever delivered before the coastal artillery was disbanded in 2000.
“We analysed whether we would be able to put something back together again which was capable of launching with,” Rear Admiral Thomas Engevall told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper. The RBS-15 missiles were launched from Scania trucks, several of which have now been recovered from museums. “A number of the trucks still remained.
We have have taken components from existing missile boats and warships which had the same missile system,” Engevall added.
Mike Winnerstig, security policy analyst at the Swedish Defence Research Agency, said that the decision showed that Sweden was stepping up its defence capabilities.
“This decision is national, but it is also a contribution by Sweden to the international defence capability in the Baltic Sea after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine,” he said. “If you group together these kinds of systems on Gotland, you can control quite a lot of territory in mid-Baltic.” “I do not think Sweden is a primary goal for Russia,” he added. “But we would still be involved in any conflict in the Baltic Sea area related to EU countries.” By the time of the Cold War’s end in 1991, Sweden had developed a coastal defence system protecting its islands, harbours and shipping lanes.
Defence minister Peter Hultqvist on Friday visited the test site on Sweden’s east coast to see the reconstituted system tried out for the first time. “It is extremely good that we have land-based coastal missile systems back in our National Defence,” he said. “It means that we can shoot anti-ship missiles from land over great distance. They provides increased flexibility and capability in marine warfare.
It increases military capability and that’s something we need.”
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He said that SAAB had worked closely with the National Defence to put the system back together.
Mikael Oscarsson, defence spokesman for the opposition Christian Democrats said he aimed to convince the Swedish parliament to reverse a decision to scrap the ArtE 740 radar, which could be used together with the missile system.
“If you also used the ArtE 740 mobile radar stations there would be a system that is not dependent on vulnerable fixed radar stations and data from ships,” he said.