U.S. Air Force B-1s Train with Swedish Fighters

The Arctic exercise of surface attack, air interdiction, and close air support scenarios comes as Sweden is set to join NATO.

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, approaches the runway as it arrives for Bomber Task Force 24-2 at Luleå-Kallax Air Base, Sweden. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

U.S. B-1 Lancers trained with Swedish Air Force fighters this week in an exercise intended to build partnerships and increase operational readiness, the Air Force said Tuesday.

The training mission comes as Sweden is on the cusp of joining NATO.

"Sweden is leaving 200 years of neutrality and military nonalignment behind," Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Friday in a Reuters report. "We are joining NATO in order to defend what we are and everything we believe in even better. We are defending our freedom, our democracy, and our values, together with others."

On Monday, the B-1s assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, deployed from Luleå-Kallax Air Base, Sweden, to conduct surface attack, air interdiction, and close air support scenario training with Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighters.

The joint training exercise, called "Vanguard Adler," was conducted as part of Bomber Task Force (BTF) 24-2 and designed to integrate the Swedish fighters and U.S. bombers with joint terminal attack controllers operating in the Baltic and Arctic regions, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa said.

“This timely opportunity for our crews to exercise our collective defense capabilities with our Swedish partners, soon to be NATO Allies, in the Arctic region is incredible,” said Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Jamison, 37th Bomb Squadron director of operations and BTF 24-2 lead. “It demonstrates our ironclad commitment to our partners and allies, demonstrates our expansive reach, and sends a strong deterrent message to potential adversaries.”  

Sweden's military capability has garnered a warm welcome from NATO, which says the country joining as the alliance's 32nd member comes at a "crucial time" amid heightened regional tensions.

"Looking forward to welcoming JAS-39 Gripen as NATO fighter jets," NATO Air Command said on X, formerly Twitter.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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