The introduction of the new Patriot Configuration-3+ (PAC-3+) system on 18 November 2021 marks the beginning of a new era for Swedish air defence. Although it is not a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member, Sweden has close ties to the alliance and has been beefing up its armed forces after decades of neglect amid increased anxiety over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Crimea. Sweden, whose existing air defense system cannot shoot down ballistic missiles. The collected Swedish air defence expertise, as well as a number of foreign guests from US Army and delivering industries, were present during the handover ceremony at the Air Defence Regiment in Halmstad on 18 November. With the acquisition of the new air defence system, Sweden now has three launchers for two types of missiles, a command post, a combined reconnaissance and fire control radar, a power station, a repair unit and towing vehicles. The system, which goes by the name of Air defence system 103 (LvS103), is a decisive step towards enhancing Swedish air defence capability.
Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, who inspected the new materiel with a great interest: “By means of the LvS103, the Swedish Armed Forces will have the capacity to counter long-range missile and air attacks and we will also be able to fight ballistic missiles. This is a powerful modernization and upgrade of Swedish air defence and Swedish defence capability as a whole. The fact that we have ordered and received an advanced system such as Patriot within three years only, is remarkably well done by all parties.”
Also present at the handover ceremony was Army chief Karl Engelbrektson was more than pleased at the formal handover and did not hesitate to use grand words: “Today is a great day for the Swedish Armed Forces and the Army especially. We have received a new capability for fighting ballistic missiles. The total effect of the LvS103 enhances our capability in a significant way. I will now be able to report to the Defence Minister that the system will obtain initial operational capability (IOC) at the turn of the year.”
The Government of Sweden has requested to buy four (4) Patriot Configuration-3+ Modernized Fire Units consisting of: four (4) AN/MPQ-65 radar sets, four (4) AN/MSQ-132 engagement control stations, nine (9) antenna mast groups, twelve (12) M903 launching stations, one hundred (100) Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-TBM (GEM-T) missiles, two hundred (200) Patriot Advanced Capabilty-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles, and four (4) Electrical Power Plants (EPP) III. The Swedish government announced its decision to buy Patriot in November 2017 after evaluating it against the French consortium Eurosam’s SAMP/T. After months of preparations, such as basic training and procurement work for, among other things, vehicles and maintenance concepts, the first components of the Air Defense System 103, Patriot, are beginning to arrive. The technical verification will be more extensive than usual due to Sweden being the first country to receive the latest software configuration.
The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the primary of its kind used by the United States Army and several allied nations. It is manufactured by the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon and derives its name from the radar component of the weapon system. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target” which is a backronym for PATRIOT. PAC-3 is one of the missiles used by Configuration 3+, but as Patriot is an entire system, not just a missile, the Config 3+ enhancements involve a whole suite of upgrades and capabilities. U.S. and Swedish officials formalized an agreement for Sweden to purchase PAC-3 MSE interceptors and related support equipment in August 2018. The first Swedish troops were training on the system at Fort Sill in December 2018. The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration accepted the first deliveries in April 2021 and System Integration and Check Out was initiated by The Swedish Armed Forces. So far, 15 other countries have purchased Patriot, including NATO members Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Poland, while neutral Switzerland has said it is considering Patriot among other systems.