TKRB – Coastal Defense in Swedish

In a surprise move, Sweden today announced that they will reintroduce truck-based coastal defense batteries equipped with the Saab RBS15 heavy-anti ship missile. This is not a new system for Sweden, which operated exactly such a unit for five years between 1995 and 2000. This was then rapidly disbanded in the general drawdown of the Swedish Defense Forces. The decision was widely criticised, and has since come to be seen as a major mistake (amongst several that took place between 2000 and 2009). Crucially, the equipment was not stored for a possible reactivation, but dispersed without any kind of central plan. Some of the trucks were sold on the civilian market, some were used by Saab, FMV, or the defense forces themselves.

The Finnish truck-based launcher mounting the MTO 85M. Source: Wikimedia Commons/MKFI

The original TKRB (Swe. Tung kustrobot, literally ‘Heavy coastal missile’) was the RBS-15KA based on the baseline RBS 15, later referred to as Mk I. The current version in Swedish naval use is the updated Mk II, which also roughly corresponds to the Finnish MTO 85M. This is starting to show its age, and in the Finnish Navy it is to be replaced in both vessel- and coastal-based roles in the time span of 2018 to 2025. A number of countries around the Baltic Sea already operate the upgraded Mk III, which can be considered a completely new weapon for most intents and purposes.

The interesting part is that Sweden at very short notice has decided to introduce a new(ish) weapon system with a very limited operational life span of just five to ten years, after which it will have to be replaced with a new missile. Granted, this is a low-cost solution, with the weapons themselves already found in the inventory and the drawings for the truck-mount probably based on the original implementation. Still, it has been known for years that this system would significantly increase the deterrence factor, and nothing has happened until now.

The fact that this significantly heightens the Swedish Defense Forces ability to defend their home waters is great news for Finland as well, as this is one place where our supply lines would be vulnerable to intercept without the Finnish Navy or Air Force being able to do something. However, this also causes a very uncomfortable question to pop up again:

What does the Swedish Commander-in-Chief know, that our politicians pretend they don’t?

10 thoughts on “TKRB – Coastal Defense in Swedish

  1. gbd_crwx

    It’s possible that the parliement defence committe, which has been known to leak considerable or some parts of the government is not trusted.

  2. Znail

    I think the most interesting tidbit was that the TKRB was already back in service and taking part of an exercise. So it’s similar to the permanent force on Gotland in that it gets official first after the fact. The exercise itself also acts as a temporary reinforcement of Gotland. I think that a few TKRB on Gotland would make it a fair bit harder to land troops on it with ships.

    1. This is an often repeated claim, and one which I haven’t found any concrete evidence to back it up. The Finnish MTO 85M has the Saab designation RBS 15SF-III, which denotes third version for Suomi/Finland. I believe this is the reason for the apparent mix-up. I have never seen any pictures of a Mk.3 launcher in Finnish use, either on a vessel or a truck mount. The MTO 85M does seem to be something of a hybrid Mk.2/3, or a ‘Mk.2+’, but open sources are naturally quite vague on its exact capabilities. See also earlier post:

      //Corporal Frisk / Robin

      1. J

        After more searching for sources I believe you´re right. Its not even possible to put a Mk.3 in an Mk.2 launcher since the missile is 4,35m and the Mk.2 box is only 4m. Jane´s Fighting Ships also states that Mk.2 in Swedish service have a range of 110km and Finland´s SF have 150km so Mk.2+ is a good way to describe them

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  5. Marcus

    The Swedish defence force have ordered production of the new generation anti ship missile, the so called RBS 15 Mk4 which will be in the swedish Navy and Airforce around year 2025 and who knows Sweden might modify the current TKRB to mount it on.

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