Due to the gloomy nature of nuclear weapon strategy and doctrine, the Swedish government presumably sought to press the pause button on this plan.
Saab A-36. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
“Saab A-36, Cold War Nuclear Warrior Against the Soviets: Saab isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of a bomber being developed.” During the Cold War, Sweden also did not have a reputation as a country with a strong military presence.
Swedish planners have begun sketching out plans for a delta-winged, hypersonic bomber. In the 1950s, the Swedish considered upgrading it to nuclear capability as a weapon against the Soviet Union. The Saab A-36 was developed for this purpose. The program was unexpected, and hence the Swedes may have become a nuclear power even though they abandoned the pursuit of nuclear weapons in the 1960s but canceled in 1957.
Swedish officials, who feared for their country’s survival during a nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States, declared neutrality during the Cold War. The country was not a member of NATO, but it nonetheless had a close relationship with the United States, which included sharing intelligence.
After WWII, it began producing plutonium for its nuclear weapon, but years later, it discontinued the project due to financial constraints. The Swedish government had no intention of starting a nuclear exchange, but they believed having access to nuclear weapons would allow for a more adaptable and effective defense strategy.
A Method of Delivery Is Required for This.
Because of this, the A-36 showed up in design concepts and a feasibility study. In the 1950s, the Swedes needed a delivery system to create a nuclear weapon. In addition, a brand-new bomber would need to be built. It certainly needed to be done to ensure a first strike. The Swedes hoped to provide themselves with a deterrent against a possible Soviet invasion launched from the Baltics, and a tactical nuclear weapon seemed the likely choice.
Saab’s A-36 was not designed for range, but speed was an objective.
As a result, the A-36 was intended to be something other than a strategic bomber. Its total weight was 1,764 pounds, and its greatest range was 254 miles. The Soviet-controlled Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will be in danger if they traverse the Baltic Sea from Sweden’s southeastern shore.
It had to happen quickly, though. The Swedish designers and engineers debated using swept wings but settled on a delta configuration. In their estimation, the A-36 could reach a speed of Mach 2 and a cruising altitude of 59,100 feet.
The Swedes planned for this to be a twin-engine design, and they reasoned that the Rolls-Royce Olympus, as used in the Concorde supersonic commercial airliner, would be a good fit.
At that rate of speed, the airframe would overheat, which could compromise the nuclear payload. For this reason, included an internal weapons bay in the design. It was supposed to limit the amount of fuel that could be carried and potentially even the output of the nuclear bomb.
Due to the gloomy nature of nuclear weapon strategy and doctrine, the Swedish government presumably sought to press the pause button on this plan. The Swedes were anything but Machiavellian. While it’s true that staying alive during the Cold War was a top priority, was it so dire that the Swedes would resort to using a nuclear weapon? It was at odds with the culture and ethos of this place, which valued harmony and tranquility. No matter how adaptable Sweden’s defenses were, avoiding a nuclear clash was likely still preferable. Because of this, the A-36 was never built, and Sweden never produced a nuclear weapon.