The Swedish Defence Forces deployed the advanced Patriot air defence system around the strategic Southern harbour of Gothenburg on Monday to see how it would respond to a crisis in the low likelihood Sweden is attacked.
This is the first time the American Patriot air defence system – capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft within a range of 60-160 kilometres, depending on the missile used – has been used in action by the Swedish Armed Forces.
“The west coast with the port of Gothenburg is strategically important with all the transports that comes in there, and therefore it is crucial to be able to protect against an attack with this system,” the press officer at the Swedish Armed Forces Therese Fagerstedt told Aftonbladet.
“It is not an exercise”, Fagerstedt said, adding that the deployment was part of a readiness operation.
“Contingency operations are carried out to test how quickly and effectively our units and combat forces can respond in a crisis situation. The operation is not prompted by any change in the threat to Sweden”, the Swedish Defence Agency states on its website.
The Swedish Armed Forces consider the risk of an armed attack against Sweden to be low but cannot rule out such a scenario.
Following the war in Ukraine, Sweden has stepped up its military spending, which includes the purchase of Patriot air defence missiles from the US.
Last year alone, Sweden made two orders, one totalling SEK 30 billion (€2 billion) which was placed by the current government before Christmas, the other, worth SEK 1.3 billion (€114 million), placed by the former Social Democratic government in May last year, SVT revealed.
“We are taking another step to strengthen Sweden and our defence capability. This investment paves the way for a greatly strengthened air defence. This is particularly important in the light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Sweden’s former Finance Minister Max Elger said in May.