US Bombers Exercise in Sweden
(Source: Swedish Armed Forces; issued May 20, 2020)
Norwegian F-35A fighters escort a US Air Force B-1B bomber during its first sortie into Norwegian airspace. During its swing through Northern Europe, the B-1B flew with British Typhoons, Swedish Gripens and Norwegian F-35A fighters. (RNoAF photo)
The Swedish Air Force today conducted a combined air exercise with parts of the US Air Force, an exercise that had been planned for a long time, in which all air force units with fighter aircraft as well as the Air Combat Training School participated.

Swedish fighter aircraft­– Jas 39 Gripen – escorted US B-1B Lancer bombers in Swedish air territory. Air-to-air refuelling was conducted from US KC-135 aircraft in order to enhance the endurance of Swedish aircraft in the air. The sortie was conducted by the Swedish air combat command.

“The principal task of the Swedish Air Force is to provide strong air defence, to control Swedish air territory. By doing so, the Swedish Air Force facilitates ground target operations, also simulated in this exercise,” says Air Force Commander Major-General Carl-Johan Edström.

The situation in the surrounding world is becoming increasingly unpredictable and volatile. If a conflict were to arise in the Baltic Sea region, Sweden would inevitably become involved.

In the solidarity statement, Sweden has clearly stated that we will not remain passive, should an attack be launched upon us, our partners or other nations bordering the Baltic Sea. Military cooperation is vital for ensuring long-term security and stability in our region.

The Swedish Armed Forces’ participation in international exercises, in and outside Sweden, is in line with Swedish defence policy and aims at increasing interoperability and exercise activities in the Baltic Sea region.

“This has been a good exercise, in which we have demonstrated interoperability and our role as a reliable and relevant partner. The transatlantic link and combined exercises with US air units increase our capability. Our task, single-handedly as well as with others, is to create security and stability in the Baltic Sea region,” he says.

The US and Finland are Sweden’s most important cooperation partners. This exercise enhances Swedish defence capability while simultaneously developing cooperation with the US, which is crucial, should Sweden become the target of an armed attack.

The Swedish Armed Forces’ cooperation with the US originates in the statement of intent, agreed upon by Sweden and the US in 2016.

The main purpose of the exercise was to develop methods and procedures for tactical escorting of bombers and close-support aircraft and to conduct air-to-air refuelling, Major-General Carl-Johan Edström concludes.

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Norway and the U.S. Join Forces in the Air
(Source: Norwegian Armed Forces; issued May 20, 2020)
Two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing in Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, conducted a long-range strategic bomber task force mission to the Nordic region on 20 May 2020. The bombers visited Norwegian airspace, where they integrated and trained with four Norwegian F-35s.

For Norway, the U.S. mission provided an important training opportunity.

"Today, we have carried out complex air operations with advanced systems – both on the ground and in the air," says Lieutenant Colonel Ståle Nymoen, commander of the Norwegian 332 Squadron.

The B-1B Lancer is a strategic heavy bomber that makes up the US fleet of long-range bombers along with the B-52 Stratofortress and the B-2 Spirit.

Benefiting Norway

In addition to complex air operations, Norway’s chain of control and reporting was an important part of the exercise. From the ground, the control and reporting chain continuously monitors Norwegian airspace and communicate with the fighter aircraft in the air.

“This is an important training arena for integrated training. This allows us to operate together and exchange information with other allies”, says Nymoen.

The squadron commander says Norway benefits from planning and operating with advanced capabilities from other allied nations.

“The exercise gives us good experience in both planning and execution of major operations. We streamline our own concepts, so that the Norwegian Armed Forces and our allies operate even better together in the future”, he says.

Allied Exercise

Through NATO, Norwegian forces continuously train with other allied nations – including the United States. Earlier this year, US B-52s exercised with the Norwegian Armed Forces in northern Norway. I 2019, American and Norwegian F-35s trained together in Norway, and several US F-22 Raptors visited Norway in 2018.

Today's exercise, however, was one of the biggest of its kind. Several other allied and partner nations trained together with the US B-1s.

“The fact that we are able to operate together, also increases our ability to defend Norway together with our allies”, says Nymoen.

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RAF Typhoons Train with United States B-1B Bombers and NATO Allies
(Source: Royal Air Force; issued May 20, 2020)
Aircraft from the Royal Air Force have been carrying out intensive training sorties with US strategic bomber aircraft over the North Sea.

The Royal Air Force aircraft from RAF stations Lossiemouth, Waddington and Brize Norton were launched, to escort USAF B-1B Lancer bombers, that were conducting their latest long-range training sortie. The US aircraft are part of the US based 28th Bomb Wing, Bomber Task Force and took off from their home base at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. The training has also included other NATO and allied nations.

The B-1Bs were met by the RAF Typhoons over the North Sea and were escorted towards the Baltic region where the escort was handed over to Swedish Gripen fighter jets.

A Typhoon pilot from RAF Lossiemouth based IX(B) Sqn said: “It was a privilege to fly alongside our colleagues from the United States Air Force, demonstrating our ability to work with our allies anywhere, at any time. Usually Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth are launched to intercept aircraft which may pose a threat to UK airspace, identifying them and determining their intentions.”

“In this case we escorted our allies through their first leg of NATO airspace, prior to their mission in the Baltic region” he added.

During the flight across the North Sea the air group was joined by a US KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing based at RAF Mildenhall, a KDC-10 from the 334th Squadron, based at RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base and a RAF Voyager from RAF Brize Norton to conduct Air to Air Refuelling.

An RAF E-3D Sentry aircraft flying from RAF Waddington was also airborne at the same time. The personnel on board the Sentry coordinated the mission as the RAF and NATO aircraft flew over the North Sea.

For the first time the B-1Bs flew over Sweden to conduct integration training with Swedish Gripen fighters and conducting close-air support training with Swedish Joint Terminal Attack Controller ground teams. On leaving Swedish airspace the B-1Bs were joined by Norwegian F-35As and conducted a low-approach over Ørland Air Station, Norway.

Air Vice Marshal Ian Duguid, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group, said: “This has been another excellent opportunity to demonstrate the continued commitment of the Royal Air Force to the NATO alliance. Working closely with the US and other NATO nations helps build a collective capability within NATO that enhances our level of interoperability.”

He added: “These missions also offer a unique opportunity to test and refine the complex network of Air Command and Control, Intelligence and Space based operations that are essential to delivering front line RAF capabilities.”

“Long-range bomber training missions strengthen our steadfast partnerships with allies across both Europe and Africa and showcase our ability to respond globally from anywhere. This mission further enhances our interoperability capabilities by taking ground breaking steps to incorporate our partners to generate seamless operations,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Commander.

(ends)

B-1s Integrate with Allies and Partners; Fly Over Sweden for First-Time
(Source: Air Force Global Strike Command; issued May 20, 2020)
Two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, conducted a long-range strategic Bomber Task Force mission to the Nordic region May 20, 2020.

The mission marked the first time B-1s have flown over Sweden to integrate with Swedish Gripens while conducting close-air support training with Swedish Joint Terminal Attack Controller ground teams at Vidsel Range.

“Long-range bomber training missions strengthen our steadfast partnerships with allies across both Europe and Africa and showcase our ability to respond globally from anywhere,” said U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, Gen. Jeff Harrigian. “This mission further enhances our interoperability capabilities by taking groundbreaking steps to incorporate our partners to generate seamless operations.”

A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, and a Dutch KDC-10 from the 334th Squadron, RNLAF Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands, enabled the B-1 to complete the round trip from Ellsworth Air Force Base without stopping, while also providing aerial refueling support to our partner-nation aircraft.

During the flight, the B-1s were escorted by Royal Air Force Typhoons over the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the B-1s integrated with Norwegian F-35s to fly tactical sorties and conduct a low-approach over Ørland Air Station, Norway. Ørland Air Station is the home of the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s recently operational F-35 fleet.

Given the inherent speed, flexibility, and range of strategic bombers, Bomber Task Force missions demonstrate U.S. capabilities and commitments to our allies, partners, and any potential adversary.

Operations and engagements with our allies and partners demonstrate and strengthen our shared commitment to global security and stability.

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