IN FOCUS: Sweden hails Gripen's evolution at Red Flag

Las Vegas
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During two weeks of intense action, a large combined force composed of 119 participating aircraft and 2,700 personnel from five nations practised complex combat operations during exercise "Red Flag 13-2".

Conducted from 21 January to 1 February, involving assets from the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the USA, the manoeuvres took place above the Nevada Test and Training Range, to the north-west of Las Vegas. The exercise was one in a series of advanced training programmes administered by the US Air Force Warfare Center and Nellis AFB.

saab gripen gunnar åkerberg

Gunnar Åkerberg

Eight single-seat Gripen Cs were deployed to Nellis AFB for Red Flag 13-2

"Our focus is to provide realistic and relevant combat training through integrated war fighting," says Col Tod Fingal, commander of the USAF's 414th Combat Training Squadron. "We do so in what we call a contested and degraded, operationally limited environment. We bring all kinds of forces here, both the joint force within the US Army, navy, air force and Marine Corps, but also our coalition partners. Because when we bring all of us together and train in that contested environment, what we are seeing is that it gives us the opportunity, if called upon, to achieve war fighting at excellence across all domains: air, space and cyberspace."

EARNED ITS SEAT

Sweden is one of about 30 non-US countries to have participated in a Red Flag exercise since the programme was created in 1975 and, to date, is the only NATO Partnership for Peace member to have sent an operational fighter squadron to such an event.

"The Swedish air force was not invited to Red Flag as a casual courtesy. Instead, the Swedish air force and its pilots earned their seat at the Red Flag table," US Ambassador to Sweden Mark Brzezinski said during the recent exercise. "By performing ably in operations like Unified Protector over Libya, where the Swedish air force performed their reconnaissance role brilliantly, the Swedes have shown their capacity and ability to produce results."

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