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Ukraine conflict: Sweden fires RBS 23 SAM from Gotland

The Swedish Armed Forces fired an RBS 23 medium-range surface-to-air missile from Gotland on 24 April. (Swedish Armed Forces)

The Swedish Armed Forces announced on 25 April that they had fired an RBS 23 medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) at the Tofta firing range on Gotland the day before, strengthening the defence of the Baltic island and contributing to building up its anti-aircraft capabilities. The missile was fired by an RBS 23 towed launcher and shot down a target drone detected by a PS-90 radar, the Swedish designation for the Giraffe 3D radar, according to the Swedish Armed Forces.

“We choose when and where we want to show our ability to the opponent and today we chose Gotland,” said Swedish Army Major General Fredrik Ståhlberg, deputy chief of joint operations.

Colonel Mikael Beck, commander of Sweden's Air Defence Regiment, who commanded the firing, said it confirmed anti-aircraft capabilities on Gotland.

Colonel Magnus Frykvall, commander of the Gotland Regiment and battlegroup, said, “A credible anti-aircraft capability is crucial for the defence of Gotland, and the ability to deter a possible attacker.”

The Swedish Armed Forces said testing anti-aircraft capabilities was a priority since the deterioration in the security environment in 2023, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The RBS 23 was developed in the 1990s and delivered in the early 2000s, and a unit was trained at the Air Defence Regiment in Halmstad, but the system was placed in storage until it was reactivated and deployed to Gotland in 2019.

According to Janes Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery & Air, the RBS 23 has a range of 20 km and is capable of engaging targets including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, anti-radiation missiles, cruise missiles, guided bombs, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

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