HELSINKI - Sweden's military exports set a record in 2010 despite a contraction of sales to the home market. Moreover, defense industry leaders are forecasting a stronger year in 2012, with Saab's $3.2 billion agreement to deliver 22 Gripen fighter jets to Switzerland providing a lift.
Arms exports by Sweden amounted to $1.95 billion in 2010. This contrasts with an equally high export level of $1.9 billion in 2009 and relatively modest exports, valued at $429 million, in 2001. The Netherlands was the biggest recipient in 2010, with purchases valued at $300 million.
The significant increase in exports has been motivated by a Swedish government policy to look to the wider international market for off-the-shelf weapons and equipment solutions. With fewer contract opportunities available, Sweden's defense industry has started to generate a higher proportion of its sales through exports.
Sweden exported military equipment and materials to 63 different countries in 2010. This compares with export sales to 52 countries in 2000 and 33 in 1990. Despite the government's broader procurement policy, the defense industry has gained from the establishment of the Defense Export Agency, which was established this year to support export initiatives by small, medium and large defense companies.
Exports of military equipment and materials from Sweden hit the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2004. The upward movement in exports since that time has produced export sales of $1.5 billion in 2006, $1.8 billion in 2008 and the $1.95 billion recorded in 2010.
The industry is forecasting exports will break the $2 billion barrier in 2011, when about 62 percent of production will be exported.