European Navies Are Grappling with Aggressive Russian, Chinese Operations in Baltic, Mediterranean
“It is a matter of fact that we need to take [Chinese presence] into account” in assessing the changed security environment. It also means improving our capability to deter possible future aggression, said Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy Adm. Teodoro Lopez Calderon.
For Spain, it means building up its military-industrial strength to produce more capable submarines and frigates that can operate with NATO partners. It also means working with navies and coast guards in the West and North Africa to curtail human trafficking and other illegal activities. He estimated 70,000 illegal immigrants tried to reach Spain last year.
In Sweden, “we’re emphasizing our region,” the Baltic where Moscow is increasingly making its maritime presence felt at Cold War levels – in the air, on the surface and below. Rear Adm. Jens Nykvist, Sweden’s Chief of Navy, said.
“It is an increasing number of ships” of all flags – commercial and military, operating in the Baltic, and that has really changed Stockholm’s approach to security off its 1,700-mile coastline.
All three said these geopolitical changes have focused their nations’ attention on increasing defense spending and emphasizing modernization and replacement of aging systems. Calderon said that modernization spending was central to deterrence.
Nykvist said, “Increasing the number of surface ships is priority number one” and increasing cooperation with NATO.
All the chiefs wanted to speed the cycle of producing ships. “Ten years is way too long a time,” Nykvist said from design to commissioning.