Submarine hunt exposes gaps in Swedish Navy

Sweden, which is not a NATO member, has downsized its military significantly since the Iron Curtain fell.

Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/AP
The Swedish corvette HMS Visby navigates on Mysingen Bay, as the search for a suspected foreign vessel enters it's fifth day in the Stockholm archipelago, Oct. 21. The Swedish military said Sunday it had made three credible sightings of foreign undersea activity in its waters during the past few days amid reports of a suspected Russian intrusion in the area.

The search for a foreign underwater craft in waters off Stockholm has brought back memories of Sweden's submarinehunts during the Cold War — and exposed a key difference.

Back then Sweden actually had a robust anti-submarine force.

Sweden, which is not a NATO member, has downsized its military significantly since the Iron Curtain fell and has scrapped some of the resources it used to hunt for Soviet submarines, including helicopters equipped with sonar and anti-submarine weapons.

The military says the helicopters used in the current search don't have that equipment.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said Tuesday that Sweden's military "needs to improve its capacity." He cited Russia's increasing military activity in the region but added that "we do not regard that as an immediate threat to Sweden."

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