- Sweden applied to join NATO, and the Alliance welcomed her candidacy
- NATO officials are particularly interested in the Swedish Air Force, which has dozens of modern aircraft at its disposal
- Swedish pilots, however, are frustrated by the changes in policy and many are considering retiring from service
- More such information can be found on the main page of Onet.pl
While Sweden is preparing to join NATO, the Swedish air force has a problem. The most experienced fighter pilots leave their jobs.
– In the fall, around half of the Swedish Armed Forces fighter pilots may take a vacation or resign altogether – Swedish TV SVT reported in July.
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According to the union representing pilots, changes in the pension system are a problem.
– In the past, pilots could retire at the age of 55 Said Jesper Tengroth, spokesman for the Swedish Union of Military Officers. – However, for people born in 1988 or later, the retirement age was raised to 67 years ago with no compensation – added.
Swedish commanders admit that the problem is serious. – Overnight all the retirement age was raised at the same time – said Maj. Gen. Carl-Johan Edström, head of the Swedish Air Force. – The fact that many pilots apply for vacation is almost 100%. related to the new pension agreement – added.
Many of these pilots feel cheated. “There are many people my age who have been trained and hired based on certain assumptions that have now been changed,” one of the pilots told SVT.
No wonder that The media in Russia, which is dissatisfied with the accession of the hitherto neutral Sweden to NATO, publicize this story. – In recent years, the Swedish Armed Forces have had problems recruiting new pilots and retaining existing employees – Sputnik News said.
See also: Sweden and Finland in NATO. “It will change the situation in the Baltic Sea basin”
Jan Kallberg, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, told Insider that there were other reasons for the pilot exodus.
“I think the pilots’ case has been dragging on for a long time,” said Kallberg, himself a former Swedish army officer. – I think this is the tip of the iceberg. They have felt mistreated for generations, he added.
One problem is the relatively low wages compared to the civilian sector, including commercial airlines that are looking for pilots and are willing to pay them high salaries.
Another problem is the post-Cold War defense cuts, which have reduced the number of positions for pilots in the Air Force. – This means that instead of retiring as pilots at 55, they are now stuck working behind a desk in defense. They have to work like this for many years until they can retire, ‘said Kallberg. The Swedish government intends to increase defense spending in the coming years, but is still considering how to do so.
Unlike the US military, whose staff receive a housing allowance, Swedish pilots pay for their housing themselves. Sweden’s entry into NATO could cause some of the disused airbases to reactivate, which in turn would force pilots to pay for new accommodation when they move to new facilities.
Ironically, the issue that most worries NATO leaders – how the lack of pilots will affect Sweden’s military capabilities – may, in fact, be the simplest to deal with. Sweden has an efficient air force, the backbone of which is six squadrons of 96 JAS 39 C / D Gripen fighters.
Sweden’s main contribution to NATO, however, is not the jets, but the geography. – Sweden provides an operational base in the far north. NATO will be able to operate wings from many Swedish airports – argues Kallberg.
Until now, NATO has had to rely on several bases on the Norwegian coast to control the Barents Sea, which borders on vulnerable military bases in northern Russia.
Not only is Sweden a larger country of greater strategic importance than Norway, it also offers access to the Barents Sea and the Baltic Sea, including bases on the Baltic islands, which could enable NATO to repel Russia’s naval and air forces in a key sea region.
– If you want to act as a deterrent or support the fight in the Baltic Sea, Sweden is your natural place of stationing Kallberg said.
However, Kallberg sees problems in the Swedish army that need to be fixed. Although Sweden has a long tradition of providing troops for UN peacekeeping missions, its army – which benefits from conscription – is not used to operating with the larger formations and the fighting style that would characterize a possible NATO-Russia war.
Kallberg said Sweden was serious about meeting its NATO obligations. “They know they will have to provide themselves with military and resources,” he explained.
Author: Christopher Woody
Translated by Mateusz Albin