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A Glimpse at The Swedish Air Force Today

During a recent Saab webinar with leading Indian defence journalists, Major General Mats Eric Helgesson, former Swedish Air Force Commander, took the participants through the Swedish Air Force operations today.

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Major General Helgesson began the session by talking about the challenges faced by the Swedish Sir Force today. “So, what does a normal day look like for us? There are lots of activities that happen at the Baltic Sea. You can see NATO aircraft, and Swedish aircraft on missions. There are Russian fighters escorting strategic bombers. There are Naval fighters. You can also see unmanned aircraft patrolling the area. So, there are lots of activities that happen on a daily basis,” he said.

“We need high readiness 24X7. We need to be able to operate and scale up at any time via dispersed air bases. We should be able to operate from different locations as well.”

About the need to operate out of dispersed air bases, Major General Helgesson said that they help the Air Force to spread out, and not put all its eggs in one basket. Dispersed airbases also help in countermeasures like deception. They can also be used during harsh weather conditions, especially in winters.

Describing the Swedish Air Force, Major General Helgesson said that Sweden is a counter air Airforce. “We are strategically defensive. We are not designed to do expeditionary operations far into someone else's territory. We are supposed to defend ourselves and our close neighbours. We base our concept of fighter tactics on high performing aircraft with good links, electronic warfare systems, and top-class weapons like meteor, RBS 15, and IRIST,” he explained.

The Major General also touched upon QRA missions and said that the Swedish Air Force is always ready for these sorties. "As an Air Chief I am very proud to say that Sweden has had QRA capability for so many years," he said.

He concluded his presentation with an emphasis on maintaining strategic readiness by development. In order to be able to operate for a long time in future, a fighter needs to be developed continuously. ''We have always believed in gradual updates instead of mid-life upgrades. Constant updates mean your fighter doesn't have to wait for 15-20 years to have integrate new technologies. And it is a cost-efficient strategy as well,” he said.