Sweden seeks air-defense guns for its assault boats

Sweden seeks air-defense guns for its assault boats

MILAN — Sweden plans to acquire anti-aircraft guns for its fast-assault boats to counter drones and helicopters, as officials have warned that the Baltic Sea could become a flashpoint with Russia.

The Swedish Ministry of Defense’s equipment branch, dubbed FMV, has launched a call to purchase eight anti-aircraft guns under a contract valued at over $176 million.

The weapons will be placed on the Swedish-made Combat Boat 90, a high-speed and sharp-turning assault craft for the country’s amphibious units, according to recently published tender documents. The are slated to operate “in all naval geographical areas of interest,” and will include 12 years worth of ammunition designed to damage aircraft.

Anti-aircraft guns can be a lower-cost alternative to missile interceptors when it comes to protecting troops against drone attacks, a scenario that has become ubiquitous in Ukraine’s defense against Russian attacks.

While some Russian boats are already armed with these types of air defenses, Moscow was also reported to be creating mobile anti-aircraft gun units, where each truck would be equipped with Soviet-era anti-aircraft cannons.

The Swedish procurement comes amid concerns expressed by Micael Bydén, commander of the country’s armed forces, over Russia’s ambitions in the Baltic Sea region.

Of specific interest, he noted in a recent interview with German media network RND, is the island of Gotland, located in the middle of the Baltic Sea, around 330 kilometers from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

“I am confident that Putin even has both eyes on Gotland – his goal is to gain control of the Baltic Sea, and who controls Gotland controls the Baltic Sea,” Byden said.

Given its tactical importance for Sweden, now a NATO member, and the wider region, the Scandinavian country has stationed permanent troops on the island.

Earlier this month, the Russian defense ministry floated plans to revise its maritime borders around the country’s islands in the Gulf of Finland and around Kaliningrad, a move that would open territorial disputes with nearby NATO members.

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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