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Sweden to Scout Baltic Sea With New Radar

Sputnik News

16:35 24.01.2017

Amid incessant talks of the alleged "Russian threat," which rest on nothing but speculations and guesswork, Sweden is slowly stepping up its defense efforts. Among other things, the Nordic nation is working on a new radar station intended to boost the security of the Baltic Sea region.

Currently, Sweden relies on Denmark to watch over the southern Baltic Sea. However, the Nordic country is set to launch an independent radar monitoring station in the future. An upgraded radar station in Vissefjärda in Kalmar County is expected to become Sweden's eyes in the Baltic Sea.

The previous version of the Vissefjärda radar nested on a 25-meter-high tower stopped spinning several years ago. Today it is being replaced by a state-of-the-art system that can detect aircraft with its transponders turned off. On Monday, Swedish Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson broke ground onthe first symbolic step towards an upgraded radar station.

"Civilian traffic controllers should be able to detect aircraft flying without a transponder, which is a growing problem," Anna Johansson said, as quoted by Swedish Radio.

The radar tower outside Vissefjärda is expected to become part of the civil service as the Swedish Armed Forces intends to rent out the system to the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA). However, the fact that the invited members of the press corps were requested not to reveal to exact location of the key radar tower reveals that it is still of major defensive importance.

"Military activity in the Baltic Sea region has increased and they are flying in a different pattern," CAA radar expert Anders Andersson told Swedish Radio. "Our needs have increased over time, it is as simple as that," he added.

The cost of the new radar station is estimated at 55 million SEK ($6.3mln).

In recent years, Sweden has voiced particular concern over Russia's alleged trans-Baltic flights with transponders turned off. Foreign Minister Margot Wallström even summoned Russian Ambassador to Stockholm Viktor Tatarintsev to emphasize the country's dissatisfaction.

However, in the fall of 2016, it turned out that NATO was the real obstacle towards a safer Baltic Sea. In September, NATO rejected a Russian proposal for requirements that all flights across the Baltic Sea should be carried out with transponders on, venturing that it "did not improve flight safety." In a similar situation, Sweden was earlier invited to a meeting between Russia's Vladimir Putin and Finland's Sauli Niinistö, yet refused.

Since the early 2000s, NATO member states have conducted intelligence operations in the Baltic Sea Region, which in effect means flying with transponders off.


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