Last week, the Swedish Government has decided to commit a squadron of Gripens fighter jets as well as a mine-sweeping warship to the NATO Response Force (NRF) by 2014, with eight more fighter jets joining the allied force by 2015.
NRF is a multinational force made up of 25,000 troops that can be quickly deployed and act as a stand-alone force in case of need.
What is more, along with Norwegian and Finnish fighter jets, Swedish aircraft will take part in the Iceland Fighter Meet 2014 (IFM14), that is scheduled from Feb. 3 to Feb. 21, 2014 and is part of the concurrent Iceland Air Policing mission (ISLAPS).
The increasing cooperation between Sweden and NATO is somehow tied to the aggressive posture of the Russians in the Baltic Sea area: even if close encounters have always occurred they have become a bit more frequent during the last year, with simulated attacks in March, April, June, and October, that have sparked some concern.
The Gripens in the NATO QRF will act towards greater degree of interoperationability of Swedish forces with NATO. JAS-39s have already taken part in the 2011 Libya Air War.
However, despite the always shrinking defense budget and fewer active units Sweden is not to enter the North Atlantic alliance in the foreseeable future: only 32% of Swedes are for NATO membership, while 40% are against, according to a poll from May 2013.
Written with David Cenciotti
Image credit: SAAB/Eduard Isch