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Sweden Flygvapnet / Swedish Air Force - History

The Swedish Air Force, a neutral country that is not part of any military bloc, took part in only three military conflicts. During the Winter War (1939-1940) between the USSR and Finland, a volunteer squadron fought on the side of Finland. As part of the UN peacekeeping force in the Congo, from 1961 to 1964, the Swedish squadron was involved in strikes against the targets of the Katanja separatists. In 2011, at the request of NATO, eight Swedish SAAB JAS 39 "Gripen" fighters supported a restricted no-fly zone in Libya.

After the Great War, the belief in peace was great. Both Russia and Germany had been defeated and the newly formed League of Nations would preserve peace. In 1925, the Riksdag made a defense decision which meant that the defense would be greatly reduced. At the same time, the so-called principle of elasticity was launched. This meant that a country's defense could quickly grow or shrink, depending on need. In the defense decision of 1925 it was also decided that an air force would be organized. Army and Navy aircraft were merged into the new branch of the Air Force. On July 1, 1926, the Air Force began operations with four air corps, a flight school and some workshops. There was an extensive program for the purchase of fighter aircraft, but it was not completed. The cost calculations were badly done and in addition there was no doctrine that could control the program.

The international unrest during the 1930s led the Riksdag in 1936 to decide on a certain rearmament. While other branches of the Armed Forces saw their appropriations cut in the early 1930s, the Air Force was reinforced. The Air Force's four air corps were transformed into flotillas and expanded to seven. A commander-in-chief was to lead the defense in war and a defense staff was formed. This was common to the army, navy and air force. In connection with the crises in Europe in 19381939, the defense received large additional sums to strengthen preparedness. This reinforcement was intensified at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

When World War II broke out in 1939, the 1936 defense decision had not been implemented. During the ongoing winter war of 1940, it was decided that the entire defense would be strengthened. The German attack on Denmark and Norway accelerated the measures. The 1941 defense investigation led to the training period being increased to at least 12 months. In addition, there were rehearsals. The commander-in-chief would now operate in both peace and war.

However, the strong build-up of the defense took full effect only after the end of the war. When construction began, the shortage of officers was great and many conscripts were untrained. It was also difficult to buy munitions from abroad, as many countries were upgrading at the same time. Strengthening the defense when needed - the principle of elasticity - took longer than expected in the defense decision of 1925.

After the Second World War, the 1945 Defense Committee proposed that the Armed Forces be reduced. However, rising tensions between the major power blocs prevented this. The defense, which was relatively strong after the war, was now given the task of providing credible support for the non-aligned neutrality policy. The threat of a nuclear war led to Sweden creating a strong civil defense. It also contributed to the development of the air force into the fourth largest in the world in the mid-1950s, and eventually the first in the world with only jets. The decision to invest in strong air combat forces also meant that the domestic manufacture of planes increased greatly.

The defense was kept relatively strong during the 1950s. However, political agreement on a strong defense declined during the 1960s and in 1968 the cuts began. Between 1969 and 1980, the number of air flotillas was halved. With the Defense Decision in 1992, the organization of the Armed Forces was reduced. At the same time, a major effort was made to improve the quality of the units and new equipment was purchased, including signal reconnaissance aircraft, system JAS 39 Gripen and engine replacement for SK 60 aircraft.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:03:58 ZULU