While the Gotland-Class Submarines aren’t very well known in the general public like those from the US Navy, Sweden has developed a world-class sub that has even at times taken on America’s best warships and won. Sweden, a country known for neutrality during World War Two and the Cold War, actually has a stalwart defense industrial base that many defense analysts gloss over – a pity. It has excellent fighter planes such as the JAS-39 Gripen, and the Stridsvagn 122 tank is underrated. Now, with the war in Ukraine extending indefinitely, Sweden is looking seriously at joining NATO. If that happens, it will rely even more on its Gotland-class submarines for homeland defense.
Time to Practice For Warfare
Military exercises for the Swedish submarine force are becoming more serious and frequent. In late April, Finland invited Sweden to take part in undersea warfare maneuvers in the Gulf of Finland. Sweden deployed its Gotland-class submarine Uppland for the drill. Finland is also considering NATO membership and the two countries know the stakes are high and that it is time to work together.
According to Finnish naval commander Toni Joutsia, “The exercise is a part of the close cooperation conducted by Finland 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, comes down to rehearsing joint warfare 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 The Gotland
Sweden already granted a contract to Saab in March for a “mid-life upgrade” to the Gotland-class boat called the Halland. This is worth almost $117-million to improve the weapons capabilities on the sub – work that will include modifications on 50-different systems.
The Gotland-class consists of three diesel-electric submarines – the Gotland, the Uppland, and the 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 That is Rare on Diesel-Electric Subs
The boats may be diesel-electric, but they have extended range and endurance due to their Stirling engine air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. This allows a substantial advantage over other diesel-electric subs around the world. The AIP stores oxygen and saves battery time that enables the boat to go 20-knots when submerged and run longer underwater.
Did It Really “Kill” an American Carrier?
The Gotland is known for an exciting feat when it when up against the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during battle drills in 2004. The Gotland outmaneuvered escort ships and came within range of its torpedoes against the Reagan and this was deemed a successful strike or “sinking” of the American carrier.
These exercises and modernization efforts will give the Swedish navy even more confidence and a shot in the arm to the country’s homegrown defense industries 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, Sweden’s Gotland-class can provide NATO allies with essential 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 will be expected to spend more than two-percent of their gross domestic product on their military.
The Gotland subs would be a good place to sink more money to improve on performance.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.