While the Gotland-class submarines are not as well known to the general public as those of the US Navy, Sweden has developed a world-class submarine that has at times rivaled and won against even America’s finest warships. Sweden, a country known for its neutrality during World War II and the Cold War, actually has a solid defense industrial base, which many defense analysts gloss over – too bad. It has excellent fighter aircraft like the JAS-39 Gripen, and the Stridsvagn 122 tank is underrated. Now that the war in Ukraine is raging indefinitely, Sweden is seriously considering joining NATO. In that case, it will rely even more on its Gotland-class submarines for home defense.
Time to practice warfare
Military exercises for the Swedish submarine force are becoming more and more serious and frequent. In late April, Finland invited Sweden to take part in underwater warfare maneuvers in the Gulf of Finland. Sweden used its Gotland-class submarine Uppland for the exercise. Finland is also considering NATO membership, and the two countries know the stakes are high and the time has come to work together.
According to Finnish Navy Commander Toni Joutsia, “The exercise is part of Finland’s close cooperation with Sweden. Participation in international training activities is important because it demonstrates, maintains and develops our national defense.”
It takes a common strength
As the Finnish head of state said, the development of national defense is aimed at testing joint warfare with the Swedish army, air force and navy. The Gotland-class submarine will play an important role in this recipe for defense against the Russians.
Keep updating The Gotland
Sweden already granted a contract with Saab in March for a “mid-life upgrade” of the Gotland-class boat named Halland. This is worth nearly $117 million to upgrade the submarine’s weapons capabilities – work that will include modifications to 50 different systems.
The Gotland class consists of three diesel-electric submarines – Gotland, Uppland and Halland. The Gotlands specialize in anti-submarine warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance. They can harass enemy ships and even lay mines. The Gotland class are not large submarines and only have a crew of 32 sailors with a modest number of torpedo tubes. They were built in the 1990s.
Gotland – Long-range propulsion, rare on diesel-electric submarines
The boats may be diesel-electric, but due to their extended range and endurance, they have Air Independent Stirling Engine (AIP) Propulsion System.. This allows for a significant advantage over other diesel-electric submarines around the world. The AIP stores oxygen and saves battery time, allowing the boat to cruise 20 knots underwater and run longer underwater.
Did it really “kill” an American airline?
The Gotland is known for her exciting performance when she engaged in combat exercises against the US Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, in 2004 in a successful strike or “sinking” of the American carrier.
These drills and modernization efforts will give the Swedish Navy even more confidence and give a boost to the arm of the country’s domestic defense industry, led by Saab and others. The Swedes would be an excellent addition to NATO. These Gotland submarines are more than capable.
During a new cold or even hot war with Russia, the Swedish Gotland class can provide NATO allies with important intelligence data on Vladimir Putin’s navy. The mods on the Gotlands are affordable, even for a country like Sweden that doesn’t have a huge defense budget, although they’re expected to spend more than two percent of their gross domestic product on their military.
The Gotland Submarines would be a good place to sink more cash to improve performance.
Now serving as Defense and National Security Editor of 1945, Brent M EastwoodPhD, is the author of People, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.