We discussed the reasons for the visit of the Swedish delegation to Sea Air Space, the increased defense posture of Sweden and heightened readiness of the navy, as well as the future of the Swedish Navy (namely, the three major procurement programs: A26 Blekinge-class submarine, Visby-class corvette upgrade program and the future surface combatant).
Naval News: You spent three days at Sea Air Space. Can you please tell us the reason for your visit here in the US? And what do you think about the event?
RADM Haslum: It is the first time I am attending Sea Air Space, I could not attend previously because of COVID. And just because of that, I think it’s very interesting to meet people and also to listen to different panel debates. But we have been in the mess hall as well and we looked at new equipment and learned about some new solutions available maybe in the future.
Brig. Gen. Hjort: Well, it’s the first time for me as well, and it is a great opportunity to come here and meet our friends from other nations, and also have discussions with them about the things that we are doing in Sweden, and see how we can collaborate right now and for the future.
Naval News: Admiral, the current security environment is quite complex. At the beginning of the year, the Swedish government decided to increase its defense posture, and the Swedish Navy had a big role in this. Can you tell us more?
RADM Haslum: Yes, we have actually changed our readiness, both back and forth. During many years, I must say that it’s not only because of the war in Ukraine. We have been heightened or lowered our readiness, at least 10 years back. But we are busy. It is a busy environment we are in and we are keeping an eye on it on it all the time.
Naval News: You deployed I believe additional Visby-class corvettes and other assets such as coastal defense systems. Do you train a lot for these kinds of posturing and operations?
RADM Haslum: Yes we do. And we have sea surveillance operation always ongoing 24 hours per day, seven days a week. So if we have more assets at sea or not, we have the fixed sensors as well. So we have that see surveillance operation ongoing, but we do that also together with others, we train with other and operate together with other countries all the time.
Naval News: What does the future holds for the Swedish Navy, first and foremost I believe you’re about to celebrate very important event this summer…
RADM Haslum: We are! We are celebrating 500 years for the Swedish Navy. And it is different big events we are having during the year. For example in Stockholm, when we also have the Swedish Swedish national day. But there is very much ongoing I must say we have a procurement in our future that we will take after and we have increased our defense bill a lot. So I think we need patience because it takes time to have everything set up.
Naval News: Brigadier General, as the admiral just mentioned, you have some very important procurement programs coming up, namely, the midlife update of the Visby-class corvettes, next generation surface combatant, and of course, the future Blekinge-class submarines. How challenging is it to have those three major programs running in parallel at the same time?
Brig. Gen. Hjort: It is! As you mentioned, those are very huge programs and we have started, the submarine program started in 2015. And it’s ongoing there are two subs being produced right now down in south of Sweden in Karlskrona, Saab Kockums and that is ongoing and we are in the pre definition phase right now for the Visby-class upgrade. The main changes will be that we will implement surface to air missile systems. And, as you mentioned, also the new surface combatant which is also in its pre definition phase right now, and it is challenging. It requires a lot of personnel and the know how and close collaboration with both the industry and also the Navy to make this happen and to deliver them in time.
Naval News: Do current events impacts the requirements of those programs?
Brig. Gen. Hjort: Not the requirements. The requirements are solid, so to say. We have been in well, we don’t change the requirements for the submarine system as per se. When we look into the future combatant, we have done some changes, not due to the changes in Europe because we saw them come a number of years ago, but we have done them in order to have a better combination between the existing Visby-class and the new class. So that’s the reason why we have done some slight changes.