Hoppa till huvudinnehåll

Öppningsanförande av försvarsminister Pål Jonson vid Natos industriforum 2023


Arlanda XPO, 25 oktober 2023.

Det talade ordet gäller.

Secretary General Stoltenberg, General Lavigne, National Armaments Directors, CEOs, distinguished guests,

It is a great honour to host the very first NATO Industry Forum in Sweden. 

I would like to touch upon three subjects in my remarks today. Firstly, how Sweden can and will contribute to Alliance security as a member. Secondly, what we can learn from the battlefield in Ukraine. And finally, how we can maintain a strong industrial base and the technological edge for the future. 

To my first point – how Sweden can contribute. 

Once a full-fledged member of NATO, Swedish territory will provide the Alliance with increased strategic depth. The integration of Sweden into the new Regional Plans will consolidate the whole Northern flank in line with the Deterrence and Defence Agenda. We also have assets and capabilities in all domains that will contribute to NATO’s New Force Model. 

We are ready, willing and able to join the Alliance. 

We understand that we are joining an Alliance where an ambitious approach to defence investments is a matter of burden-sharing, but also cohesion and solidarity. Sweden stands fully behind the increased ambition in NATO’s updated Defence Investment Pledge, as agreed by Allies in Vilnius this summer. From 2020 to 2024, Sweden has doubled its defence budget from six billion Euros to twelve billion Euros. 

We expect to reach 2,1 percent of GDP to defence investments next year and will remain significantly above 2 percent for the foreseeable future. Sweden already exceeds the twenty percent guideline for defence spending to major equipment, research and development. In fact, next year, more than half of our defence spending will be on equipment and R&D. 

We are greatly helped in this endeavour by having strong and internationally recognised government agencies such as FMV and FOI. Once we have become full members, we are also looking forward to joining DIANA and NATO Innovation Fund. 

We hope that we can contribute to the Alliance’s endeavour to maintain the technological edge. This is how: 

  • According to the Global Innovation Index, Sweden ranks number two in the world among the most innovative countries.
  • According to the European Innovation Scoreboard, we rank number one in EU according to the same measure.
  • This is of course greatly helped by substantial research funding in Sweden. In terms of civilian R&D expenditures, Sweden ranks number one in the EU and number four in the world.
  • One in fifty Swedish citizens holds a PhD. That makes Sweden number five in the world in this category.

This long-time and sustained focus on R&D spending, education and infrastructure sustains our vibrant and innovative industrial base, with companies from Ericsson and Volvo to Spotify, and many others that are here today. 

The key is of course to transform innovation power into military power. Sweden’s unique industrial base combines innovation and technology to design, develop and produce world class submarines and ships, anti-tank weapons and armoured vehicles, as well as fighter aircraft and airborne early warning systems. This is rather unique for a country of ten million people. We would never be able to accomplish this if we did not have a strong civilian R&D community in Sweden. 

In addition, we are gradually building an integrated air defence with our Nordic and Baltic Sea neighbours. Our Nordic air forces have long practiced cross-border training in our shared air space and are integrating to operate together as a future joint force of some 250 modern fighter jets, F-35s and Gripen Es. 

Another example is how Swedish sensor technologies onboard our own and allied submarines, signal intelligence ships and airborne early warning and control systems now contribute to a shared picture, stretching from the North Cape to the Baltic Sea, and all along NATO’s Eastern border. This is going to be much more effectively integrated when we become part of NATO and its Integrated Air and Missile Defence. 

Still, innovations of tomorrow require engagement and investments today. A few months ago, the Swedish Government launched a Defence Innovation Initiative, in which we work in a triple helix model with civil and military actors, academia, and industry. The initiative is being developed in close partnership with industry. Together, we will identify and provide action points to strengthen the whole defence innovation ecosystem in Sweden. 

And let me be clear, the time when we talked to the industry is long gone, we now talk with the industry. It is all about partnership and teamwork if we want to be successful. 

This leads me to my second subject – what we can learn from Ukraine. 

First, supporting Ukraine is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. It’s an investment into our own security. We will continue to support Ukraine until it regains its freedom and territorial integrity. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has shown us that war is as violent, as kinetic and as bloody as it always has been. 

It is about scale and volume – that is what happens when many brigades and hundreds of thousands of soldiers are involved. But it is also a war which has shown us not only courage from the Ukrainian side, but also agility, creativity, and innovation. This is where Ukraine maintains its edge. Even though the Ukrainians where outgunned in the beginning of the war, they have been able to regain more than fifty percent of the occupied areas. Russia now controls less than twenty percent of Ukrainian territory. 

In essence, this war has been a political and military disaster for Russia. We are all grateful to Ukraine for not just defending its own security, but also ours by fighting so bravely and innovatively. 

With the war being far from over, we have identified several initial observations:

  • We need a strong and robust defence industry in Europe. This is a war of warehouses and a war of attrition. A strong defence industrial base is an indispensable part of credible deterrence.
  • We also need to strengthen our UAS and drones assets, our long- range precision strike capabilities, as well as air defence Systems and robust satellite communication.
  • Space-based assets and secure communication have played a crucial role in this war. We need to understand that, but also act upon that fact.
  • And most important of all, we must ensure a strong will to fight. You can have all the technology and assets in the world, but if you do not have the will to fight, you will fail. This demands political leadership and effective strategic communication among other things.  

This leads me to my third subject of today – strengthening the defence industrial base.

Firstly, we need to ramp up production in Europe. There are new and encouraging programmes and initiative on the way, in the EU with both ASAP and EDIRPA, and in NATO with the Defence Production Action Plan. 

The EU and NATO has never worked as closely together as they have done in the run-up and during the war in Ukraine. We need to build upon that. I warmly welcome that the third joint declaration between the EU and NATO in particular underlines cooperation around new and disruptive technologies and space. 

But as participants in this room know more than anyone, ramping up production is difficult. Nevertheless, it needs to be done. The industry’s willingness to invest in production capacity must be met with long-term commitments from governments. The current rise in demand must stay on these high levels for many years to come if we want investments in production capacity.

Secondly, we need to ensure that emerging and disruptive technologies are more quickly integrated into test beds and demonstrators and in the hands of the operators. On balance, we are operating with too long acquisitions cycles in Europe. It is crucial that we increase the pace of integration, as the technology develops exponentially. 

To conclude, let me stress that at the end of the day, we need to develop weapons that are more effective and advanced than those of our adversaries. 

We need both quality and quantity to win. And we need it fast.

Thus we need to act, and we need to invest. And we need to invest together. 

We can have all the strategies and plans in the world, but there is a sacred expression that “culture eats strategies for breakfast”. We need to encourage a culture that is not afraid to make mistakes and is open to innovation and collaboration across traditional sectors.

It all needs to be done in a close and open dialogue with you, the industry.

With these remarks I would like to thank you for listening and I now look forward to listening to Secretary General Stoltenberg and General Lavigne.

Thank you.