NATO

Sweden and UK: A military firepower comparison

As Sweden looks to follow Finland and apply for NATO membership, here's a comparative look at what it would bring to the alliance.

In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sweden has decided to follow Finland and apply for NATO membership, ending more than 200 years of military non-alignment.

The country has held a neutral stance on conflict throughout much of its history, and public opinion remained firmly against joining NATO until the February incursion, after which polls indicated a dramatic shift in favour of membership.

But what can Sweden offer to NATO?

Here's how the military firepower of Sweden stacks up in comparison to the UK, using IISS Military Balance 2022 data taken prior to the invasion in February 2022 and subsequent hardware donations.

Manpower

Sweden

  • Active personnel: 14,600 (Army 6,850; Navy 2,100; Air 2,700; Other 2,950)
  • Voluntary Auxiliary Organisations: 21,200
  • Conscript liability 4-11 months: 4,000
  • Reserve personnel 10,000

UK

  • Active personnel: 153,200 (Army 85,800; Navy 34,050; Air 33,350)
  • Reserve personnel: 75,450

WATCH: Ministers from Sweden and Finland join NATO meeting in Berlin.

Army

Sweden

  • Tanks: 120
  • Infantry fighting vehicles: 411
  • Armoured personnel carriers: 1,064 (including 360 protected patrol vehicles)
  • Mine clearing vehicles: 33+
  • Recovery: 40
  • Bridging vehicle (engineering and support) 3
  • Armoured engineering vehicle: 6
  • Artillery: 357
  • Surface-to-air missile systems:11+
  • At least 30 air defence guns

UK

  • Tanks: 227
  • Infantry fighting vehicles: 388+
  • Recce: 613
  • Armoured personnel carriers: 805
  • Protected patrol vehicles: 1,238
  • Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles: 8
  • Artillery: 598
  • Surface-to-air missile systems: 74+

 

WATCH: Know Your Missiles – having a blast with the UK's most high-tech firepower.

Navy

Sweden

Navy

  • Attack Submarine: 5
  • Corvettes: 5
  • Patrol craft: 145 (including 133 fast patrol)
  • Mine warfare: 7
  • Amphibious landing craft: 11
  • Logistics and support vessels: 15

Amphibious

  • Artillery: 12
  • Coastal defence systems: 8

UK

Royal Navy

  • Aircraft Carriers: 2
  • Destroyers: 6
  • LPD (Landing Platform Docks): 2
  • Frigates: 12
  • Survey Ships: 4
  • Mine Countermeasure vessels: 11
  • Offshore Protection Vessels: 8
  • Coastal Forces Squadron: 14
  • Ballistic Missile Submarines: 4
  • Other submarines: 6

Royal Fleet Auxiliary

  • Amphibious ships: 3
  • Logistics and support: 12

Naval Aviation

  • Transport: 4
  • Training: 16
  • Helicopters: 58

Royal Marines

  • Armoured fighting vehicles: 99
  • Artillery: 39
  • Patrol and coastal combatants: 2
  • Amphibious landing craft: 26 and surface-to-air missile capability

WATCH: What is NATO and how does it work.

Air Force

Sweden

  • Fighter and Ground Attack: 96
  • Anti-submarine: 8
  • Electronic intelligence: 2
  • UAV: 8
  • Airborne early warning and control: 3
  • Tanker/transport: 1
  • Transport 8
  • Training: 67
  • Sweden's air force has a range of air-launched missiles and laser/GPS-guided bombs

Armed Forces Hel Wing

  • Medium transport: 33
  • Light transport: 20

UK

  • Fighter and Ground Attack: 234
  • Anti-submarine: 8
  • Electronic intelligence: 3
  • Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance: 6
  • Airborne early warning and control: 3
  • Tanker/transport: 10
  • Transport 46
  • Training: 164
  • Multi-role helicopters: 5
  • Transport helicopters: 3
  • Heavy UAV: 10
  • The RAF has a range of air-launched missiles and laser/GPS-guided bombs

Cover image: Yves Herman/Alamy Stock Photo.