December 29, 2009: After a decade of development, testing and extended sea trials, Sweden has finally put two of its Visby class "stealth" corvettes (HMS Helsingborg and HMS Härnösand) into service. This finally happened on December 16th.
With a hull made of carbon fiber material, and topside surfaces shaped to deflect radar, the Visby is hard to spot electronically. Travelling at less than 22 kilometers an hour (13 in rough seas), the Visby is practically invisible to radar.
The 650 ton ships are armed with a 57mm gun, plus eight RBS-15 anti-ship missiles (max range of 70 kilometers), as well as anti-submarine torpedoes, mines or depth charges. The crew is small (43)., but the ship can move fast (about 70 kilometers an hour) in all kinds of weather. The Visby had radar, sonar and thermal imaging equipment. The ship is 240 feet long, 34 feet wide and had a draught of only eight feet.
The Visby ships can also carry a helicopter, and is equipped with hull mounted and towed array sonars for hunting Russian subs off the Swedish coast. Propulsion is via waterjets, which makes the ships harder to detect by submarines. Five Visby class ships have been built, and all will be in service within three years. Many foreign navies have shown a lot of interest in the Visby technology.