Speech by Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist at Saab Global Eye roll-out
Linköping, 22 February
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I want to begin by congratulating Saab for reaching a new level of multi-mission airborne surveillance capability.
The road toward todays roll out has not been short. Swedish knowledge in radar technology dates back more than half a century ago. The collaboration with industry, academia, the armed forces and government has always been close. I am proud of the long history Sweden has in radar technology.
The idea of airborne radar was an idea that arose some 40 years ago in discussions between industry, the armed forces and government. The debate was connected to the ability to protect Sweden's territorial integrity. The initial idea consisted of adding a surveillance pod on a fighter aircraft. This was rejected for both technical and political reasons.
However, the industry presented the idea of a turbine engine transport aircraft equipped with a radar carrier antenna. With the support of the Swedish government, this idea was taken further with the Defence Material Agency whom since then has worked closely with the define industry.
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So here we are today, with a system that has developed over many years with a broad support from the political level.
Furthermore, it is a system that is connected to the ability to uphold a nations right to protect and maintain its territorial integrity according with international law.
Sweden's defence and security policy ultimately aims at preserving Swedish territorial integrity and sovereignty. The core objective is the protection of life and health, to ensure the functionality of society, to protect our democracy, rule of law and human rights.
Our security policy also aims at preserving our sovereignty and defending us against political, military or any other kind of pressure.
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Sweden is now half way through our current defence bill. We are pursuing a two-tiered defence policy.
First, by increasing defence spending we reinforce our national military capability.
Second, from a military non-aligned position, we deepen our defence and security cooperations with other nations and organisations.
This policy is based on a broad parliamentarian support.
In parallel to this we are using all available tools to enhance the long-term security situation in our vicinity. This means using an active foreign policy, diplomacy, trade and people to people contacts to create trust and lower tensions.
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The broad democratic support for our security and defence policy is important as the security environment is more complex than ever.
The rise of extremist non-state actors and terrorism is a fact. In our vicinity, we see a more provocative and destabilizing Russia that has shown that she is prepared to use military force to change existing borders.
Today, Russia occupies 20 % of Georgian territory since the war in 2008. In 2014, we saw the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea. Since then, the Russian proxy war in Eastern Ukraine continues.
Let me be clear: this is against international law and it is unacceptable. Territorial integrity must be respected.
Beyond the wars against Georgia and Ukraine, we have seen Russia supporting the Assad regime in Syria, a nation that is conducting a horrific war against its own population.
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As for Swedish defence industry, I fundamentally believe that a strong, resilient and internationally competitive Swedish defence industry is essential and closely connected to our national security.
The defence industry in Sweden has a history dating back to the 16th century.
The Swedish position of neutrality in war during the World War and Cold War required a strong Armed Force, which in turn required a strong national defence industry.
Today, neutrality is not part of our defence policy. We are military non-aligned, but this does not mean that we stand alone.
Our defence industry has moved from predominantly government-owned companies to more of private companies, many of which are present on the international market.
Our history has made it possible for Sweden to develop a strong defence industry with a spectrum of high quality systems, like fighter aircrafts, submarines, frigates, military vehicles, radars and sensors, weapon systems and ammunition.
For being a small nation, I am proud to be the Minister for Defence with these domestic capabilities.
The Swedish government has also announced the fighter aircraft, submarine technology, radars and sensors as areas of Swedish national security interests. Saab is the largest defence industry in Sweden and has been very successful internationally for decades.
We have also seen the growth of small and medium-sized companies that contribute with innovative thinking, critical thinking and ambitious entrepreneurship.
Many of the Swedish SME-companies focus on the domestic market, both directly to the defence agencies and as sub-suppliers to other larger companies that export internationally.
The Swedish defence industry has always been present on the international market, but the export share of defence equipment has increased during recent decades.
That increase has made the need for partnerships, both domestically and internationally, even more important in order to maintain the high competence and thus the competitiveness.
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Sweden has a defence industry that is relevant today and for the future. The Global Eye is an excellent evidence of that.
Together with partners, I foresee that Swedish defence industry and its partner will continue to grow by building, integrating and sustaining the Swedish Armed Forces and our international partners.