Sweden's New Submarines Delayed Amid Ballooning Costs
© AP Photo / Henrik MontgomerySwedish submarine HMS Halland (File)
© AP Photo / Henrik Montgomery
Despite spiralling costs, the two Saab A26 submarines are considered strategically important, lacking any realistic alternatives.
The Swedish Armed Forces' new submarines will be delayed by several years and more than SEK 5 billion ($580 million) more expensive than expected.
The two A26 submarines ordered in 2015 are considered strategically important for the nation's defence. The news of delay broke after the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) signed a supplementary agreement with submarine producer Saab where the cost of the submarines went up from SEK 8.6 billion ($1 billion) to approximately SEK 14 billion ($1.6 billion). The submarines are not expected to be delivered until 2028 or 2029, the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet has reported.
According to FMV, one of the reasons why the agreement has had to be renegotiated is due to additional equipment such as stealth technology and torpedoes. The authority also cited the condition of the shipyard in Karlskrona that will produce the submarines as being overestimated.
Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist assured that the project is of paramount importance and should continue despite cost increases and delays.
"I don't see any realistic alternatives", Hultqvist told Svenska Dagbladet.
According to Hulqvist, the cost increases will be covered by the defence budget negotiated in 2020 and will not hamstring other branches of the military. By contrast, the Liberals, who supported the government's recent defence budget, are sceptical.
"There are no free SEK 5 billion floating around in the defence economy. Of course it will be taken from elsewhere", Liberals defence policy spokesman Allan Widman said.
25 August 2021, 05:16 GMT
At the same time, the National Audit Office in its recent report denounced the work on strengthening the Swedish military's operational capability as being slower than planned. In particular, the purchase of new aircraft and submarines had reportedly "supplanted other equipment projects".
"Deficiencies exist in planning, analysis, management, and implementation. Misjudgment of the initial situation and underfunding has delayed and made the work more difficult", the report said.
In 2015, the Swedish Parliament decided to greatly strengthen the nation's national defence and bolster its operational capability to withstand an armed attack. The decision was made after a long period of savings in, among other things, personnel and equipment supply. Following the end of the Cold War, the Swedish military underwent extensive restructuring, focusing on international efforts rather than the ability to defend Sweden, conditions the authorities are now seeking to reverse.
Per the National Audit Office, this work has been "more difficult than expected", partly due to the previous focus having led to a "loss of competence as well as neglected purchases and inadequate maintenance of equipment".
"Building defence capability is a complicated task that the military has spent many years developing and refining. Important parts of that competence were lost in connection with the restructuring after the year 2000. This has delayed and made the adjustment more difficult", project manager Sascha Sohlman concluded.