U.S. Air Force Bombers Fly Over Stockholm as Sweden Readies to Join NATO

A date has reportedly been set for the Nordic country to officially join the alliance.

American and Swedish aircraft flew at 3,000 feet over Stockholm before proceeding over Arlanda and Uppsala Garrison. [Courtesy: Swedish Armed Forces]

U.S. Air Force strategic bombers flew over Stockholm alongside Swedish Air Force JAS 39 Gripen fighters Wednesday as reports emerge that a date has been set for Sweden to officially join NATO.

"Sweden is leading the exercise within its territorial boundaries," the Swedish Armed Forces said in a statement. "This exercise has been planned for a long time and is a bilateral effort between Sweden and the USA. After passing through Swedish airspace, the aircraft will join the NATO exercise Nordic Response, which is part of NATO's Steadfast Defender series."

The joint formation flyover, which took place between 12:40 p.m. and 1 p.m. Central European Time, was scheduled in the wake of news that Sweden was on the cusp of becoming the alliance's newest member, according to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe & Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA). The bombers and fighters flew over Avicii Arena, Sweden’s Parliament House, Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ESSA), and Uppsala Air Base (ESCM).

“The strong and enduring bond between the United States and Sweden, rooted in mutual interests and shared values, is poised to reach new heights,” General James Hecker, commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA and NATO Allied Air Command, said in a statement. “As Sweden prepares to join the NATO alliance as its 32nd member, we eagerly anticipate deepening our collaboration with our Swedish allies. Initiatives like this joint flyover are just the beginning, as we work together to advance international stability and security.” 

According to reports, that bond will deepen imminently.

"Monday is the time," when at lunchtime Sweden's flag will be raised at NATO Headquarters in Brussels as a celebratory marker for its inclusion, Swedish TV4 Nyheterna said Wednesday.

Sweden's formal NATO membership, however, could perhaps come online as soon as Thursday, according to Politico. "The exact time of entry depends on Hungary’s pace of registering its confirmation of Sweden’s bid in Washington," Politico reported.

Sweden’s military capability has garnered a warm welcome from NATO, which said the country's joining comes at a “crucial time” amid heightened regional tensions.

The Stockholm flyover represents the latest joint demonstration between the U.S. and Sweden. Last week, U.S. B-1 Lancers conducted surface attack, air interdiction, and close air support scenario training with Swedish JAS 39 Gripens.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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