Baltic Approaches D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part II


Even before Sweden became a combatant Soviet military air and sea assets in the Baltic region were in danger of becoming overextended. After ten days of fighting Denmark was not yet neutralized. The Danish Air Force had been reinforced by US and British fighter squadrons and now NATO airpower held a decisive edge in the skies above Jutland and Zealand. Soviet and Warsaw Pact warplanes continued to battle for air superiority over Denmark, and attack military targets there, but the effort was costing them a heavy number of planes and pilots. The overall strategic war plan for the Western TVD had called for the Red Banner Baltic Sea fleet to conduct a breakout to the North Sea by D+7. That timeline had been unceremoniously missed. At present it did not appear likely that a maritime push through the Baltic Approaches would even be of any value given the changing strategic picture in theater. Finland also required a significant commitment of air and naval forces. Attacks on airbases, and other military targets in southern Finland had been relatively limited up to this point. Yet now that Sweden was pledged to support its neighbor to the east militarily, Soviet efforts in southern Finland would have to be stepped up.

Now the Soviet Union was also at war with Sweden. Unhappily, with most of the squadrons and ships in the Baltic committed to Finland and Denmark, Western TVD was now forced to rob Peter to pay Paul so to speak in order to conduct sustained, effective operations against Sweden. Units that should’ve been in action elsewhere on D+10 were re-tasked, filling the gap, but at the same time reducing the overall effectiveness of Soviet operations in the Baltic on this day.

From 0700 into the afternoon, the Soviets focused their air attacks on naval facilities, and airbases. Musko, Berga, and Karlskrona naval bases were targeted by Tu-22 Blinders and Su-24 Fencers through the morning and afternoon. Musko fared better than Karlskrona and Berga, owing to the fact that most of the Musko facility was situated underground. Damage was classified as light at all three locations, and naval operations were not disrupted. Sweden’s air defenses remained an effective adversary throughout D+10 meaning the Soviet warplanes had to fight their way in, and out. Spetsnaz commandos, and KGB operatives shifted their attacks from civilian and government targets to those of the military variety. Radar sites, ammunition depots, and a handful of command posts. These raids were largely unsuccessful, and regarded by the Swedish military as harassment more so than anything else.

For the Swedish military, outside of defense of the homeland, its primary aim of the war was to support Finland militarily. Troops were arriving on the Aaland Islands to secure and fortify the island group in preparation for the pipeline of military supplies that was to start flowing from Sweden to Finland very soon. The naval and air presence around the islands was also growing as Sweden, and to a lesser extent Finland prepared to defend the air and sea approaches from Soviet interdiction attempts. Resupply was expected to commence at 0200 hours local time on D+11.

To Western TVD’s credit, it became apparent what was happening around the Aaland Islands, and a plan was put together to interdict and disrupt the coming Swedish supply effort. The Soviet’s main issue was getting the warships, and submarines positioned in time. Supporting aircraft also needed to be pulled from their current missions and re-tasked, an effort that required a lengthy amount of time.

Circumstances were shaping up for the first major battle between Swedish and Soviet naval forces to occur sometime early on D+11.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: