Sweden boosts sub fleet after suspected Russian incursion

Sweden said on Thursday it would order two new submarines to boost its armed forces months after a futile hunt for a suspected Russian mini-sub in the Stockholm archipelago. 

AFP| Updated: Mar 19, 2015, 19:18 PM IST

Stockholm: Sweden said on Thursday it would order two new submarines to boost its armed forces months after a futile hunt for a suspected Russian mini-sub in the Stockholm archipelago. 

"The order... will ensure Sweden`s underwater capacity beyond 2030," Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said in a statement. 

"Underwater capacity is a central part of Sweden`s defence in peace time, as well as during emergencies and war," the ministry added.

Although no Swedish official ever identified the nationality of the elusive mini-sub -- hunted in a massive naval operation for a week in October following civilian sightings -- experts widely believed it to be Russian.

The failure to locate the sub raised questions over the non-aligned country`s military capabilities after years of cutbacks in the post-Cold War era.

The two new generation A 26 submarines to be produced by Swedish arms groups Saab have a maximum price tag of 8.2 billion kronor ($945 million, 886 million euros).

They are set to be delivered by 2022 at the latest. 

Last week the government announced a 6.2 billion-kronor hike in defence spending largely focused on upgrading its capacity to detect and intercept submarines.

The extra funds would also be used to re-establish a permanent military presence on the strategic Baltic Sea island of Gotland, situated between southern Sweden and Latvia, for the first time in 10 years.