F-16C Fighting Falcons and support Airmen from the 480th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, arrived at Kallax Air Base, Sweden, in support of Trident Juncture 2018.
TRJE18 is the largest NATO exercise since 2015, with participation of more than 50,000 military personnel from 31 nations.
TRJE18 is partially funded by the European Deterrence initiative. EDI funding enables the United States to enhance the U.S. deterrence posture, increase the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces in Europe, support collective defense and security of NATO allies and bolster the security and capacity of U.S. partners. This enables faster response to any aggression by a regional adversary against the sovereign territory of a NATO ally.
The U.S. Air Force routinely rotates aircraft in and around the theater in support of operations and exercises and in full coordination with host nations, allies, and support partners. By supporting operations like TRJE18, USAFE helps strengthen the relationship the U.S. has with its NATO allies and partners.
According to an article by Thomas Nilsen and published in the Barents Observer on October 23, 2018, it was noted that:
From Kallax air base (Luleå) in northern Sweden, U.S. air force F-16 fighters will operate. Sweden participate in Trident Juncture with about 2,200 soldiers, of which 100 belongs to the air force.
In northern Norway, planes will operate from both Bodø and Andøya air bases north of the Arctic Circle as well as Ørland and Gardermoen airports. The Norwegian armed forces write in an information bulletin that air forces will support the land forces in the field exercise area.
Sweden and Finland are the two only non-NATO countries of the 31 participating.
In recent years both Finland and Sweden have moved closer to NATO in the sphere of operational military cooperation. Commenting on the NATO exercise, Sweden’s Carl Bildt writes in and Opinion Editorial for Project Syndicate that «with no time to waste, Scandinavia is finally breaking fully with the Cold War ear doctrine for neutrality, and embracing a more prudent and proactive defense policy.»
Bildt was Foreign Minister from 2006 to 2014 and Prime Minister from 1991 to 1994.
He says Sweden will continue to move closer to NATO. «Joint exercises will lead to deeper operational alignment and the establishment of common deterrence capabilities for all of Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea.
The featured photo shows Swedish Gripen and Nordic flags. Photo: Thomas Nilsen