Sweden sends Ukraine artillery, helps UK stock back up
Sweden will send eight Archer artillery systems to Ukraine and help the UK build its stock back up by replenishing it with 14 units, the same amount it previously sent Ukraine.
The first 14 Archer artillery systems will have ownership transferred to the British Army this month and be fully operational by April. The Archer is a self-propelled artillery system with eight-metre-long gun barrels mounted on trucks or dump trucks.
While the Archer cannot match the range of the US Himars rocket artillery system, it is “a good complement to Himars” and will be used primarily to knock out enemy artillery, according to Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson.
According to Jonson, this deal has enabled the UK to send its AS-90 artillery system to Ukraine as the Archer systems will replace the donated British AS-90s until the UK has developed a new artillery system for the future.
“This agreement with a close European ally will sustain the British Army’s requirements until the longer-term Mobile Fires Platform comes into service – a programme we are working hard to accelerate,” said UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace.
On the Swedish side, the government has positively welcomed the deal.
“This deal gives Sweden an opportunity to find a strategic partner for Archer, which is important for developing the weapon system,” said Jonson.
Sweden and the UK aim to cooperate on a logistics hub for the Archer system to be established near Ukraine.
Sweden currently has 48 Archer artillery pieces, 24 of which the Swedish Armed Forces use. The other 24 are in storage, and 22 are now being transferred to Ukraine or sold to the UK, while the remaining two will be used by the Swedish Armed Forces to develop the Archer system.
On those that will be sent to Ukraine, Jonson said, “they will enable the Ukrainians to defeat Russian artillery systems.”
The agreement was reached in two months and “emphasises the strong ties with our Swedish allies, who have risen to support the challenging timeframe,” according to the UK Defence Ministry’s press release.
In addition to eight Archer and 10 Leopard 2 tanks, Sweden has also decided to support Ukraine with 50 combat vehicles, anti-aircraft systems and anti-tank weapons.
The UK and Sweden have also agreed to collaborate on repairing and maintaining vehicles in Ukraine.
(Sofia Stuart Leeson, Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)