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The Swedish Armoured Brigade of the 21st Century
Okay, so technically it’s the wrong country for the play on words from that well known beer advert, but it is the correct region! In this article I will present the current Swedish Armoured Brigade organisation, and show that it is one of the toughest opponents around, especially in the context of its role, which is the defence of the homeland.
This article originally appeared in the SOTCW's Journal No.51 (Christmas 2006).
The Military Balance of 1999-2000 lists the Swedes as having six Mechanised Brigades, (which technically is correct, as none have armour heavy tank battalions.) However, two of the Brigades, the 9th and 19th, are in fact nominated as Armoured Brigades due to the equipment mix used.
Many wargamers are aware of the ex-East German kit purchased by the Swedes, but most of that has gone to the Mechanised and Infantry Brigades, while the Armoured Brigades are a cut above the rest. (800 East German MT-LB’s were bought to replace theTgb20 all terrain trucks in the Infantry units giving the troops some form of armoured protection even if the Pvb401 - the Swedish designation of the MT-LB - isn’t up to the standard of the CV90FCV – SOTCW Ed.)
An example of this is the Strv-122 (or Leopard 2A5) they purchased. Whisit good enough in its own right, the Swedes took one look at it and realised it is grossly under-armoured (!) so the Swedes have added about 6" (15cm) of armour to the nose, and have also added ceramic layered armour to the roof to help protect against bomblets and overhead attack missiles. The wheel hubs are armoured, effectively making all the hull side spaced armour, and they have added HALON type automatic fire suppression equipment to the fuel tank, on top of the one already fitted to the crew compartment. There is a new digital command/data system, similar to the American MS, and they have replaced the standard smoke dischargers with the French 80mm GALIX system. This is an automated defence system that fires smoke grenades, missile decoy or anti-personnel grenades as required. All these additions have brought the Strv-122 up to 63 tonnes weight, but it does make it the best Leopard 2A5 version in use anywhere in the world. The only thing it won't have is Depleted Uranium penetrators in its FSAPDS round.
The Anti-Tank Battalion is interesting, and shows again the Swedish prediliction to anti-armour defence. All the ATGW are on armoured vehicles, and the Bill is very useful as it has an overhead attack warhead, effective against most MBTs, even those with special armours. The Bill is mounted in an open hatch in the rear of the MICV, so is not quite fully under armour firing, but it can be dismounted and hidden alongside dug-in infantry. Yet again the mortar company is present, and two of the companies are in CV-90-40, which can utilise their 40mm cannon on everything other than MBTs, thereby saving missiles, or are still useful even after all the ATGW are fired.
Swedish Armoured Brigade 1997+
The current organisation commenced in 1997 and formalised the purchase of the Leopard 2A5 from Germany, alongside the introduction of the CV-90 series of home built MICVs. The force multiplier behind this are the battalion mortars, as will be shown. Traditionally it would be expected that an armoured brigade would have 2-3 tank battalions, one infantry battalion in MICVs, an artillery battalion, one AA company, one engineer company and one recce company. Since WW2 the Swedes have turned away from the “pure” tank battalion and used mixed battalions, even having an APC platoon attached to each tank company. Currently this has been refined to mixed battalions with pure companies.
The Swedish Armoured Brigade has the following units:
Brigade HQ staff
3 x Mechanised Battalions
1 x Anti-tank Battalion
1 x Artillery Battalion
2 x AA Companies
2 x Engineer Companies
1 x Recce Company
Note the differences compared to the traditional armoured brigade mix - a complete anti-tank battalion no less, and double the number of AA and engineer companies. As usual the Swedes are ahead of the game, having extra engineers at brigade level. The Americans have realised this recently and their new Force XXI Heavy Division has a complete engineer battalion per combat brigade.
In detail, the Brigade supports are:
Brigade HQ: 4 x CV90FCV, 1 x Epbvc-302 command post APCs.
1 x Artillery Battalion: BHQ in Softskins. 2 x batteries each of: battery HQ in 2 x CV90FOV - 2 x OP teams in CV90FOV, 6 x 155mm FH77B Bofors field howitzers towed by Saab-Scania-111 6x6 trucks.
1 x AA Company: CHQ. 3 x platoons each of 3 x Lvrbv-701 (with RBS-70), 1 x Giraffe radar.
1 x AA Company: CHQ. 3 x platoons each of several RBS-70 on Jeeps, 1 x Giraffe radar.
2 x Engineer Companies, each of: CHQ. 2 x platoons each of: 3 x engineer squads in trucks.
1 x Recce Company: CHQ in 2 x trucks and 1 x Jeep. 4 x platoons, each of: 3 x CV-90-40, 3 x squads each of 8x men, 2 x GPMG, 1 x 84mm S.550 Carl Gustav and 6 x AT-4 disposable LAW.