Tag Archives: Swedish Air Force

Sweden ignores French request for military support

The Swedish government is mostly ignoring a request by France for military support. Paris asked for combat assets after the November 2015 terror attacks in the French capital that left 130 people (plus 7 attackers) dead, about 90 people critically wounded and another 270 less-critical injured.

Within European Union agreements France subsequently asked all EU members states for military support, to which all countries agreed, arguing that the attacks executed by a cell of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) forces that rule in large parts of Syria and Iraq was a military attack. Paris hoped for Swedish SAAB JAS 39 Gripen jets for tactical reconnaissance for Operation Barkhane (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) and/or Syria. But on Wednesday 16 December 2015 Stockholm says no to this request.

International grey zone

“The most important reason is that deploying Gripen planes would put them in a grey zone when it comes to international law. That could change once there is a very clear United Nations mandate,” Swedish foreign minister Margo Wallström said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

One of three C-17A Globemasters of the the NATO/EU Heavy Airlift Wing, taking off from Linköping-Malmen in Sweden (Image © Marcel Burger)
One of three C-17A Globemasters of the the NATO/EU Heavy Airlift Wing, taking off from Linköping-Malmen in Sweden (Image © Marcel Burger)

Papa C-17

However, Sweden is willing to give away 50 to 100 hours of its 160 hours on the NATO/EU Boeing C-17A Globemaster III Heavy Airlift Wing based at Papa Airbase in Hungary. Moreover, Stockholm is willing to look at a French request to use Swedish weapon stocks or military materiel. In 2017 Sweden is planning to contribute one of its TP 84 (C-130) Hercules tactical airlifter to the UN force in Mali (MINUSMA). Political and military experts, and part of the opposition in Swedish parliament, sees the Swedish answer to the Paris request as an unclear compromise, and certainly something far off of what the French government was hoping for.

Operation Unified Protector

In April to October 2011 first eight, later five Swedish Air Force Gripen jets flew tactical reconnaissance missions under NATO umbrella in the skies over Libya, operating from Sicily. This operation Unified Protector was backed by the UN. The 2011 deployed marked the first Swedish combat missions since the 1960s, when SAAB J29 Tunnans formed the air element of the UN forces in Congo.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen fighter at Linköping-Malmen (Image © Marcel Burger)

Low-level flying hazard for Swedish Gripen

Low-level flying has slowly become a hazard for the Swedish Air Force, especially for its SAAB JAS 39 Gripen fast jet. Information about transmission towers / electricity pylons and wind turbines is often so wrong that the military has been limited by how to train compared to a decade ago.

According to a fairly fresh report from the Swedish Crash Investigation Board (Statens Haverikommission) two years ago a JAS 39C Gripen single-seat jet came withing 30 to 60 feet of a so-called wind measuring mast. The near collision was avoided by pure luck, investigators say. More research shows that data provided by the Swedish Geological Agency (Lantmateriet) often is wrong. Towers are placed on different locations than mapped or their height is off compared to what the official data shows. If the Lantmateriet’s information reaches the military at all, because even that seems to be a problem.

To Swedish public Radio 4 flight safety chief Robert Persson of the Swedish Armed Forces HQ says: “We simply no longer operate on low level the same way as we used to.”

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Swedish Air Force Gripen low-level (Image © Sergeant Johan Lundahl / Combat Camera / Försvarsmakten)

“Russian bombers provoke Sweden”

During the political week of Sweden in July, when all politicians of all parties are together in Visby on the island of Gotland, two Russian bombers executed a simulated attack on the major Swedish naval base of Karlskrona and performed a narrow fly-by of Gotland. “This kind of behaviour is very aggressive,” Swedish quality newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) quotes a Swedish intelligence officer on 1 November 2015.

A Sukhoi Su-24M ("Fencer") on a snowy airbase of the Russian Central Military District (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
RELATED POST: Swedes slow while Russian bombers invaded

According to DN, new information shows that two Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers went straight for Karlskrona on 4 July 2015, after taking off from an airbase in the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. Apparently the Russian bombers changed course only 15 to 30 seconds before entering Swedish airspace. They seemed to ingore the two Royal Danish Air Force F-16s and two Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen jets scrambled to intercept.

The Backfires then headed north to Gotland and passed the strategic island just east of its territorial airspace, while practically all Swedish politicians were on it for the final days of the yearly main political event. The earlier released official statement of the Swedish Ministry of Defence on the incident did not include all these details.

Both Sweden and Finland have been strengthening their cooperation with NATO, causing both political and military protests from Moscow. While a full membership of the military alliance has not been asked for, the government in Finland recently ordered a quick investigation into the pros and cons of NATO membership to make a more fundamental decision on to join or not to join in 2016.

Sweden so far doesn’t go for full NATO membership, but more and more Swedish politicians are advocating in favour of joining while Russia is – in their eyes – acting more and more aggressively towards the Scandinavian nations.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Two Russian Air Force Tu-22M3s intercepted by Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets in December 2014 (Image © Ilmavoimat)

A typical Swedish "incident readiness" flight of two JAS 39 Gripen fighters - here on an unarmed training mission in 1998 - fly by the city of Visby, the main town on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. (Image © Flygvapnet)
A typical Swedish “incident readiness” flight of two JAS 39 Gripen fighters – here on an unarmed training mission in 1998 – fly by the city of Visby, the main town on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. (Image © Flygvapnet)

Red Flag for big guys

For the past two weeks, Beja airbase in Portugal was the scene of multi national exercise European Air Transport Training (EATT15), organized by European Defence Agency (EDA) and European Air Transport Command (EATC). In other words: C-27J Spartan and C-130 Hercules galore in Portugal. This is Red Flag for the big guys.

Taking part in EATT15 were Portugal, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK, as well as observer countries Brazil, the United States and Poland. Next to C-27Js and C-130s, also present at Beja were Airbus C295s and C-160 Transall aircraft. In total, 20 transport aircraft and 2,500 military personnel were involved, not counting in three Portuguese Air Force F-16s and a sole P-3C Orion.

The EATT15 aims to train and prepare the crews of tactical airlift squadrons in order to guarantee their readiness for all kinds of operations within the European alliance. The concept of the exercise is to “provide joint training and ensure interoperability among the participating forces”, said Lt. Col. Laurent Donnet, overseeing EATT15 on behalf of the Belgian Air Component.

 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A long way from home: a Swedish Hercules in Portugal. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Also a long way from home, is this C295 from Finland. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Also a long way from home, is this C295 from Finland. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A fine study of a Alenia Aermacchi C-27J. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

Scenarios
During the exercise, crews trained for various scenarios, such as operations to and from unprepared air strips, Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR), extraction of military and non-military elements, medical evacuations, plus air support in an urban environment and emergency situations.

The home team. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
The home team. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
(Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Blue skies surround this Spartan…. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
… and this Hercules. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

JPADS
During EATT15, crews used the Airdrop Joint Precision System (JPADS), a US military airdrop system using GPS, an onboard computer and steerable parachutes to direct cargo to a designated impact point.

EATT15 was also about efficient use of logistics, tooling and spare parts. The proximity of similar aircraft types and their crews allowed for standardization of procedures, exchange of know-how as well as the fostering of a spirit of unity. This spirit is embraced by European Air Transport Command (EATC), the institution directing and overseeing operations of hundreds of European military transport and tanker aircraft. The latter had their own exercise earlier this year.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com guest editor Jorge Ruivo – www.cannontwo.blogspot.pt
Featured image (top): A C-130 overhead Beja in Portugal. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

A Lithuanian Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A Lithuanian Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Touchdown for the Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Flaring for landing. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Flaring for landing. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
EATT15's final landing was on 26 June. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
EATT15’s final landing was on 26 June. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

War games as usual over the Baltic Sea

While NATO, Sweden and Finland are jointly engaged in large scale military exercises on the Baltic Sea coasts and in the countries neighbouring Russia, it is business as usual in the air above the Northern European waters with Russia sending up bombers and escorts, and the opposing side scrambling fighter jets.

Last week was somewhat special. The stars and stripes were promoted big time by two US Air Force B-52H bombers dropping training sea mines off the coast of Skåne in Southern Sweden. They were escorted by at least four Swedish Air Force Gripen fighter jets. The training mission, with the Buffs flying in from the United Kingdom, was part of the large scale Baltops 2015 exercise (5 – 20 June), that also saw Swedish and US Marines landing on the Scandinavian coast using the USS San Antonio as main floating base. Baltops 2015 also marked the first time the B-52s were on a real operational training mission inside Swedish air space.

The last couple of days saw the more usual suspects. Russian aircraft gave acte de presence in international airspace bordering Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark.

Royal Air Force Typhoons came home with nice pictures of a pair of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 Foxhound long-distance interceptors. Saab JAS 39 Gripen planes of the Swedish Air Force shadowed a pair of Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers escorted by two MiG-31s twice in 24 hours, as the Russian Air Force package was making a routine flight from the St. Petersburg area over the Baltic Sea towards Kaliningrad.

Baltic Air Policing
NATO planes at Ämari in Estonia and/or Šiauliai in Lithuania and/or Malbork in Poland also scramble to intercept a Ilyushin IL-20 at least on one occasion. The recon/spy plane is a regular for the NATO jets. The more specials of this week were a Iluyshin / Beriev A-50 AWACS and an Antonov AN-26. Currently the Baltic Air Policing mission on the three bases mentioned, is run by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) and the Belgian Air Component – both each with 4 F-16AM Fighting Falcons – plus the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force – both each with 4 Eurofighter EF2000 / Typhoon jets.

Saber Strike
Meanwhile NATO forces “attacked” a military airfield, Swidwin Airbase in Poland, as part of the multinational exercise Saber Strike 2015 (8 – 19 June) that includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well. The Saber Strike airfield assault that included a paradrop was meant to prep ground and air forces for a possible combined operation of the future.

Raptors
In an attempt to keep things at bay in that future the US policy makers are now even considering sending half or a whole squadron of F-22A Raptor air-supiority stealth fighters to the other side of the Atlantic, but neither a time schedule or a possible base of operations has been revealed.

Looks like the start of a warm Summer in usually cold Northern Europe.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A MiG-31 in earlier action (Image © Olga Balashova / Russian Air Force)