What does Sweden's total defense concept look like for the Swedish Navy?

Find out the impact of the Swedish total defense concept from the country's top naval officer at Sea Air Space 2018. (Jeff Martin/Staff)

NATIONAL HARBOR — Sweden, one of the only non-NATO aligned nations on the Baltic Sea, is developing a range of naval assets, the chief of its navy said Monday.

The acquisitions come as Sweden seeks to revitalize its “total defense” concept — to defend against an unnamed neighboring adversary. Sweden has similar plans during the Cold War, but allowed them to expire as its relationship with Russia improved.

On Monday, Rear Adm. Jens Nykvist, chief of the Swedish navy, said at the Sea-Air-Space Expo outside Washington, D.C., his nation’s sea force must be focused on high end and “grey zone” threats on the Baltic Sea — and be ready for any regional conflicts.

“We are the ones who will find the trigger,” Nykvist said of such threats. “We need to be out there, also there in the grey zone … to be ready to act and also, of course, have the right equipment to be able to stop someone before something happens.”

Nykvist said Swedish naval cooperation with the other non-NATO aligned nation on the Baltic Sea, Finland, is increasing. It reached initial operational capability in December 2017, and is due to reach full operational capability in 2023.

Future development falls under the watchwords of mobility, flexibility, stealth and cooperation, Nykvist said.

The naval chief said his “priority one” is boosting the numbers of surface ships.

His goals include midlife upgrades to the fleet’s Visby-class corvettes in the mid-2020s, boosting the numbers of amphibious battalions to place more marines along the Swedish coastlines and boosting the numbers of submarines to six.

Ongoing plans include two next-generation A26 submarines, which are being built Kockums, Saab’s shipyard in Malmö.

There’s also a mid-life upgrade on the Gotland-class submarines such that its equipment nearly matches the A26.

Beside a mid-life upgrade of two Gävle-class corvettes, a mid-life upgrade of Swedish amphibious corps combat boats is on tap.

For munitions, the Swedish navy has ordered a new anti-submarine warfare torpedo and the RBS-15 Mk3 anti-ship missile.

“That’s very good for me, because I will have the weapons necessary for this environment and for the future to come,” Nykvist said.