TechStrengthening for NATO? Hungary approves Sweden's candidacy

Strengthening for NATO? Hungary approves Sweden's candidacy

JAS 39 Gripen with Arexis electronic warfare pod.
JAS 39 Gripen with Arexis electronic warfare pod.
Images source: © Saab | Linus Svensson

8:56 AM EST, February 27, 2024

Following decades of neutrality, Sweden sought NATO membership on May 22, 2022, amid growing concerns spurred by Ukraine's conflict. The approval process faced uncertainties, mainly due to reservations from Turkey and Hungary. However, with Ankara's nod in late January 2024 and Budapest's subsequent approval on February 26, 2024, Sweden is poised to become NATO's 32nd member state.

Sweden in NATO

"Today marks a historic day. All NATO member states' parliaments have voted in favor of Sweden's NATO accession. Sweden is ready to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security," announced Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on the X platform this Monday.

According to experts at the American think tank Wilson Center, Sweden brings three main advantages to NATO: a robust defense industry, sophisticated technological expertise, and significant air force capabilities. These strengths are seen as crucial for the alliance's preparedness against contemporary threats and are expected to greatly enhance NATO's operational capabilities in both the Baltic and Arctic regions.

Sweden stands 29th in the Global Firepower 2024 ranking among 145 nations, showcasing a substantial military force for a country of 10 million people, with 82,300 personnel, including active, reserve, and paramilitary services. The infographic below illustrates the resources at the disposal of Sweden's navy, land forces, and air force.

Beyond military might, Sweden's entry enriches NATO with its formidable European arms industry, currently employing 28,000 people. With plans to boost defense spending in 2024, this sector is expected to grow, further bolstering Sweden's contributions to NATO.

The JAS 39 Gripen, a top-tier multi-role aircraft, excels in speed, agility, and firepower, featuring an array of sophisticated weaponry. Similarly, the SAAB 340 AEW&C, built upon the Saab 340, serves as a formidable early warning and control aircraft, thanks to its advanced radar system. Moreover, Sweden's CV90 armored vehicles represent the pinnacle of armored warfare technology, offering a range of variants for diverse battlefield roles.

According to the Wilson Center, "Sweden significantly boosts NATO's capabilities in the Baltic Sea through its extensive naval expertise and modern capabilities." Its advanced submarine fleet, particularly adept for the shallow Baltic waters, plays a crucial role in underwater operations, augmented by its stealth corvettes and Stridsbåt 90 class landing boats.

Sweden's NATO membership also heralds a surge in advanced technological skills. The nation's successful public-private partnerships, substantial R&D investment, and high educational standards are acknowledged as key factors behind its high-tech industry achievements. Sweden is thus uniquely positioned to address cyber and hybrid threats, further enhancing NATO's strategic edge.

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