While the Gotland-class submarines are not widely known to the general public like those of the US Navy, Sweden has developed a world-class submarine that has even competed against the best US warships at times and won . Sweden, a country known for its neutrality during World War II and the Cold War, actually has a strong defense industrial base that many defense analysts overlook – too bad. It has excellent combat aircraft such as the JAS-39 Gripen, and the Stridsvagn 122 tank is underrated. Now, with the war in Ukraine dragging on indefinitely, Sweden is seriously considering joining NATO. If that happens, it will rely even more heavily on its Gotland-class submarines for homeland defense.
It’s time to train for war
The military exercises of the Swedish submarine force are becoming more and more serious and frequent. At the end of April, Finland invited Sweden to participate in submarine warfare maneuvers in the Gulf of Finland. Sweden deployed its Gotland-class submarine Uppland for the exercise. Finland is also considering joining NATO and both countries know that the stakes are high and it is time to work together.
According to Finnish Navy Commander Toni Joutsia, “This exercise is part of Finland’s close cooperation with Sweden. Participating in international training activities is important because it demonstrates, maintains and develops our national defense.
It takes a joint force
Developing national defense, as the Finnish leader said, is like rehearsing a joint war with the Swedish army, air force and navy. The Gotland-class submarine will play a major role in this recipe to defend against the Russians.
Keep updating Gotland
Sweden already awarded Saab a contract in March for a “mid-life upgrade” of the Gotland-class boat called the Halland. It’s worth nearly $117 million to upgrade the submarine’s weaponry 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 and surveillance and reconnaissance. They can harass enemy shipping 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 which is rare on diesel-electric submarines
The boats may be diesel-electric, but they have extended range and endurance thanks to their Stirling engine Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system. This allows a substantial advantage over other diesel-electric submarines in the world. The AIP stores oxygen and saves battery time, allowing the boat to go 20 knots when submerged and run longer underwater.
Did he really “kill” an American aircraft carrier?
Gotland is known for a thrilling feat when she took on the US Navy‘s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, in combat drills in 2004. Gotland outmaneuvered escort ships and came within range of her torpedoes against the Reagan, which was considered a successful hit or “sinking” of the American carrier.
These exercises and modernization efforts will give the Swedish Navy even more confidence and a boost to the country’s national defense industries led by Saab and others. The Swedes would be a great addition to NATO. These Gotland subs are more than capable.
In a new cold or even hot war with Russia, Sweden’s Gotland class can provide NATO allies with vital intelligence data on Vladimir Putin’s navy. Mods on the Gotlands are affordable, even for a country like Sweden that doesn’t have a huge defense budget, although they will have to spend over two percent of their gross domestic product on their military.
Gotland subs would be a good place to invest more money to improve performance.
Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, 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.