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The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) has awarded a contract to Swedish shipbuilder Swede Ship Marine AB for eight “seagoing artillery platforms” for their Amphibious Battalion in Stockholm and Göteborg, according to a press release on 17 May 2023.

As described in the press release, the contracted vessels are essentially light patrol boats equipped with stabilised, automatic grenade launchers. The vessels are intended to provide “indirect fire with good precision” during littoral and amphibious operations, as well as offering significantly increased mobility compared to hand-held or tripod-mounted weapons.

The vessels will also carry sensors to allow the detection and engagement of land and sea targets, either in support of amphibious troops or in self defence. Although not specifically stated in the press release, it may also reasonably be presumed that the vessels’ fire control systems will be able to integrate target data from other platforms, such as amphibious infantry units as well as unmanned air and sea vehicles.

The contract also includes training and spare parts. Deliveries of the training system is scheduled for 2026-2027, with the vessels themselves following in 2027-2028.

Due to the country’s geography, the Swedish Armed Forces have always maintained great focus on littoral operations in the very constricted archipelagic waters (‘skärgården’) found along the Swedish coast, which feature many small islands and shallow waterways. In this type of environment the relatively limited range of an automatic grenade launcher, compared to other shipborne weapon types, is not a serious disadvantage, as lines of sight and lines of fire are limited.

Swede Ship Marine’s 24 m fast mortar boat could well form the basis for the fire support vessels just ordered by the Swedish FMV. (Photo: Swede Ship Marine)

Operations in this environment also require a special type of vessel with a shallow draft and, preferably, water jet propulsion. Although no details have been released about the specific type of vessel ordered, the contractor Swede Ship Marine AB specialises in just this type of vessel: relatively small, fast, with shallow draft and water jet propulsion, and optimised for operations in littoral and archipelagic waters. Current vessels offered by Swede Ship Marine AB include search and rescue vessels, amphibious troop transports, fast gunboats and mortar carriers, and it may be presumed that the vessels ordered by the FMV will be a version of the latter.

No further details, including the contract value or the specific type of grenade launcher to be accommodated, have so far been released.

Thomas Lauge Nielsen