On Wednesday munitions group Saab provided a status update for the next generation of submarines, A26, being built at Karlskrona.
Planned delivery for the submarines, which are to have a multi-mission portal in the hull for divers and underwater vehicles to enter and exit the boat, was 2022. However Saab now believes it could be earlier.
The contract is worth SKr 7.6 billion although Allan Widman (L), chair of the parliamentary committee on defence, reported defence minister Peter Hultqvist to the committee on the constitution for not releasing information about an export condition attached to the contract and criticised him for not informing them that the price could change. However Saab’s head of submarines, Gunnar Wieslander, is confident they will remain within budget.
Defence company Saab is expecting a dramatic lift if Donald Trump wins the US presidential election and frightens NATO countries into increasing their military spending. Even Hillary Clinton is clear in her election campaign that European NATO countries should contribute more.
“When you look at the countries that do not meet NATO’s target and what that is of their GDP then you can quickly see that the defence industry in Europe, and to some extent the USA, does not have the capacity to deliver in the case of sudden demand and a fast increase,” says Håkan Buskhe, CEO of Saab.
Donald Trump has said that countries that do not pay their part in NATO, two percent of GDP, cannot expect the USA’s support in the event of an attack.
The Swedish Air Force’s ageing fleet of six Hercules aircraft desperately needs an upgrade; otherwise the planes will be grounded.
However, the government has yet to make a decision. In the meantime, the Air Force is looking at new aircraft. “We need a plane for tactical transport. For example, we need to be able to move troops, defence equipment and be able to strengthen capabilities (ed.) on Gotland quickly. Since we need the new planes by around 2024, a decision needs to be made soon,” says Mats Helgesson, the Swedish Air Force Chief of Staff.
One of the most interesting alternatives comes from Embraer, Saab’s Brazilian partner.
Volvo-owned Mack Defense has received two major orders for 1,500 trucks from the Canadian Armed Forces. The deal is worth SKr 5 billion.
Communication director for Volvo Group Governmental Sales Grégoire Verdon, says, “One of the pillars in our strategy is to develop business in other parts of the world… Canada is an example that our strategy is giving results.”
This is first time Volvo has succeeded in selling a European truck to a defence customer in North America. “This is a good opportunity to show our group’s abilities,” says Grégoire Verdon.
The Volvo group has received an order to supply combat vehicles to Syria’s neighbour Lebanon, reports DI. The funds for the order come from Saudi Arabia and the vehicles will be produced in Renault Trucks’ plants.
The deal would have been impossible in Sweden, but in France Volvo has received help of the government. The order is signed by Volvo/Renault Trucks and Odas, a marketing company set up by the French government and arms exporters in 2008 (ed.).
According to DI, Saudi Arabia has informed Odas and Volvo that the deliveries are to be stopped since Hezbollah has gained too much influence over the Lebanese government. The paper suggests that the vehicles could end up in Saudi Arabia.
The USA’s decision to remove the arms embargo on Vietnam could open the door for major Swedish arms deals with the country. This kind of deal has not previously been possible, as the embargo has included systems that have American components, such as the Gripen.
Christer Ahlström, director general for the Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) says that it is theoretically possible but adds that any such deal must have Swedish approval. “We have had a restrictive view of Vietnam with our guidelines. We should also weigh up the situation for human rights,” he says.
Saab press spokesperson Sebastian Carlsson says that Saab is monitoring developments.
Defence company Saab has received a SKr 1.5 billion order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). The new lightweight torpedo system, which has been ordered for the Swedish Navy, will be able to be used by submarines, surface vessels and helicopters.
Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist (S) says, “This means that a project that was significantly delayed finally looks like it will be realised.” The system is expected to be complete and ready to go into service around 2022-2023.
Sweden’s new submarine A26, of which the state has ordered two from defence group Saab, has been harshly criticised. The criticism focuses on a portal, fiercely marketed by Saab, which can release divers and special forces into the water. Former commander and head of the three Swedish Näcken-class submarines, Nils Bruzelius, says that the portal cannot be used in the situations it is designed for.
However Mats Eolfsson, from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), which has paid almost SKr 8 billion for the submarines, has dismissed the criticism saying the portal is flexible and could also be used for new weapons.
Saab boss Håkan Buskhe is revaluing the forecast for sales of the Gripen fighter jet over the next twenty years.
Last week Finland took a crucial step towards acquiring new fighter jets by sending out an inquiry to Sweden, USA, UK and France about what they have to offer. SvD reports that Finland’s plans for new aircraft is only one example of a number of countries looking to renew their air forces.
Saab had estimated selling around 450 Gripen fighter jets in the next twenty years. However Saab president Håkan Buskhe now says in addition to the coming 450 E/F versions to be supplied to Sweden and Brazil’s air forces starting 2019, there are current C/D versions that the company expects to sell. Buskhe considers Slovakia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bulgaria as possible buyers.
The Saab defence group’s hopes of supplying Norway with future submarines were dashed on Thursday, when Norway’s Ministry of Defence said it had shortlisted Germany’s Thyssen Krupp and France’s DCNS as possible suppliers.
Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said that a submarine cooperation with either France or Germany would ensure that Norway would get the submarines it needed, while contributing to “a more efficient armaments cooperation in NATO”.
The minister also made clear that Norway would be willing to cooperate with other countries in need of new submarines, namely the Netherlands and Poland.