Tag Archives: Swedish Air Force

Low Level Flying with the Legendary SAAB J-37 Viggen in Sweden

Here’s an interesting video, showing the SAAB J-37 Viggen at work in Sweden some years ago.

The footage brings you in the cockpit of the Swedish Air Force’s delta wing plane, at very low level, over unpopulated areas covered by snow and on the range, to fire rockets.

It was filmed by the F21 (21st Wing) at Luleå and Vidsel air bases.

The front line Viggen aircraft were retired from the Swedish Air Force in November 2005 and replaced by JAS 39 Gripen. A few examples were kept flying for electronic warfare training against Gripen before being eventually retired in June 2007.



H/T to Lars-Gunnar Holmström for sending the link to the video.


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Incredible photo shows Russian Tu-22 bomber, Su-27 and other fighter planes intercepted over the Baltic

On Mar. 29, two Russian Tu-22M Backfire bombers, escorted by four Su-27 Flanker fighter jets, conducted a simulated night attack on Sweden. The mock air strike did not cause any reaction by the Swedish air force.

On Apr. 24, a Russian Air Force Il-20 Coot ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) plane flew close to the two big strategically placed Swedish isles of Öland and Gotland.

On Jun. 3, a flight of two French Air Force Mirage F1CRs tasked with the Baltic QRA intercepted and identified another Il-20 spyplane less than ten minutes after the scramble order was issued to the two fighter jets at Siauliai, Lithuania, by CRP (Control and Reporting Post), of Amari, Estonia.

The French planes escorted the Russian plane for some minutes until two Jas-39 Gripen Swedish took over (previously, Swedish Air Force was blamed for not dispatching Gripens to intercept the spyplanes flying close to Sweden’s airspace).

On Jun. 11, Finland’s Ministry of Defense claimed Russian bombers escorted by Su-27 Flankers violated the Finnish airspace for the second time in the last few weeks.

And later, the French Air Force released the following stunning images of the close encounters with the Russians over the Baltic Sea on Jun. 8 and 11….

Su-27 intercepted

Notice the presence of a Su-24 Fencer and A-50 Mainstay.

Russians 5

Russians 4

Russians 3

Russians 1

Sources: EMA Rights: Department of Defense

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Russian intelligence gathering plane flies near Sweden. Swedish Air Force allegedly fails to intercept it.

On Mar. 29, two Russian Tu-22M Backfire bombers, escorted by four Su-27 Flanker fighter jets, conducted a simulated night attack on Sweden. The mock air strike did not cause any reaction by the Swedish air force.

On Apr. 25, Svenska Dagbladet reported about a Russian Air Force ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) plane that on the preceding day flew in an unusually aggressive fashion in a narrow line of international airspace in between two big strategically placed Swedish isles, Öland and Gotland.

The Russian plane, reportedly an Il-20 Coot, arrived from the southern Baltic Sea on a northern course between the islands, then it turned south: a route that brought the spyplane close to violating the Swedish airspace.

One reason for the Russian reconnaissance plane to fly so close to Sweden may have been the large international “Combined Joint Staff Exercise” that began on Apr. 20.

The annual exercise features intense signal connection between the staffs in Karlskrona, Enköping and Uppsala; signals that could be of interest for the Russian Il-20 whose presence between Öland and Gotland could also be aimed at testing the Swedish Air Force air defense readiness.

Il-20 Coot

It is not clear yet whether any Swedish Gripen interceptor was scrambled to intercept the spyplane.

According to some Svenska Dagbladet’s sources, Sweden did not launch any Gripen; other sources say the Gripens were launched, but a bit too late to intercept the intruder when flying between the Swedish islands.

Either case, the lack of proper/effective reaction by the Swedish Air Force to Russia’s aggressive posture in the Baltic is causing concern in Sweden.

In 2011, a Russian Il-20s was intercepted by JAS-39 Gripens of the Czech Air Force performing Baltic Air Policing tasks from Lithuania’s First Air Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport as the image in this article shows.

H/T to Erik Arnberg for the heads-up

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Russian Tu-22M Backfire bombers escorted by Su-27 Flankers simulate night attack on Sweden.

Erik Arnberg, a reader of The Aviationist, brought to my attention an episode that occurred on the night of Mar. 29, 2013, when Russian military aircraft simulated a large scale bomb run on Sweden.

The episode got much media attention among the Swedish media outlets on Apr. 22, when more details about the simulated attack surfaced.

According to the Svenska Dagbladet, after midnight on Mar. 29 (Good Friday), the Swedish radars detected six fast planes coming from the east, originating from the St. Petersburg area and overflying the Gulf of Finland.

The route the aircraft were flying was far from being suspect: Russian bombers periodically fly across the Baltic Sea to reach the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, located between Lithuania and Poland.

However, on Mar. 29, the two Tu-22M3 Backfire heavy bombers, capable to carry cruise missiles and nuclear weapons, and their four Su-27 Flanker fighter jets escort got dangerously close to the Swedish airspace and, at 2 AM local time, they skirted Gotland island, some 30-40 kilometers off the Swedish territorial waters.

After they carried out their mock attacks (on targets in the Stockholm area and Southern Sweden, according to Swedish military sources who talked to Svenska Dagbladet) they turned back and returned towards Russia.

The episode is similar to those Soviet Union’s exercises typical of the Cold War, when bombers carrying the typical Red Star flew quite close to the Swedish airspace boundaries and got intercepted by Swedish interceptors. Such “visits” ended in 1992 but returned in 2011 when Putin resumed the long-range flights of its strategic bombers.


Image credit: Sergey Krivchikov

Although some Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers flew over the Baltic Sea in the last year, what’s unusual in Mar. 29 incident is that the Russian activity took place at night and, above all, it found the Swedish Air Force totally unprepared.

Even if at least two JAS-39 Gripen should always be in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) and ready for take off in case of alarm, quite surprisingly there were no interceptors ready on Good Friday night.

However, since 2004, NATO has a QRA detachment in Lithuania’s First Air Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport, whose aim is to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The task is shared by several NATO members; since Jan. 2013, the Baltic air policing task is assigned to the Royal Danish Air Force.

On Mar. 29, two RDAF F-16 fighter jets took off from Siuliai to shadow the Russian bombers and fighters from distance as the formation headed east towards Russia.

Analysts believe the massive restructuring process that downsized the Swedish Air Force from 20 squadrons and over 400 planes to four divisions and less than 150 planes is to blame for the lack of preparedness of the Swedish air defense.

For sure the Russian military activity didn’t come unannounced. As said, it was neither the first time nor will be the last to see Moscow’s bombers, fighter jets performing simulated attacks on strategic targets around the world.

On Feb. 26 and 27, after Russian Tu-95 had skirted Guam airbase, Tu-22M Backfires simulated strikes on a U.S. Aegis cruiser in the Pacific and ground-based radar station in Japan.

And, in the future, Russian could detach its advanced, stealth PAK-DA, destined to replace the current aging fleet of 63 Tu-95 Bear and 13 Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers.

Sweden, Japan and U.S. you’d better be prepared.

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Lion Effort 2012: the biggest Gripen exercise to date (with South African Air Force planes for the first time in Europe)

Update Apr. 6, 2012 23.15 GMT

Taking place in Sweden from Mar. 27 to Apr. 5, 2012, Lion Effort 2012 was the biggest Gripen exercise ever held. All five Saab Gripen operators took part to the drills, four of which flying their own planes for some 30 JAS-39s and about 300 people attending the exercise.

Being the host nation, Sweden took part with about 15 Gripens, the  Hungarian Air Force brough 5 planes, the South African AF brought four and the Czech brought 3 Gripens to Ronneby, the base of Lion Effort 2012 located in the southeast corner of Sweden, home of the F17 Wing.

Noteworthy, it was the first time that the South African Air Force has taken part in a multinational exercise with its Gripens (that were the last four examples handed over and were already in Sweden, and did not return in-flight but were carried by a ship).

Although declaring its Gripen squadron operational, the Royal Thai Air Force took part to the exercise with only a number of observers.

The majority of the sorties launched during Lion Effort 2012 took place in the airspace over the Baltic Sea and, along with the Gripens, other assets supported the exercise : a Swedish Air Force Saab 340 Erieye AEW and a C-130 tanker were also involved in the exercise, as well as four Czech Air Force L-159s.

Above images credit: SAAB

Here below you can find some exclusive air-to-air pictures, including a nice image of The Aviationist patch flying a Lion Effort 2012 sortie on a JAS-39 Gripen.