Swedish Gripen arrives at Eielson

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Peter Liander--Swedish Air Force
  • Cooperative Cope Thunder Public Affairs
The Swedish Air Force endure a long journey to participate in the Pacific Air Force exercise Cooperative Cope Thunder for the first time.

In a journey that would span more than 5 days, seven Gripen fighters left Sweden on July 13 for the multi-national exercise designed to sharpen the combat skills of the participating aviation units and provide training for deployed maintenance and support personnel in sustainment of deployed large force deployment air operations.

The first leg of their trip took them west for the Royal Air Force Station at Lossiemouth, Scotland. After being refueled, the next stop was at Keflavik in Iceland.

Two Swedish AF C-130 Hercules were used as transportation for ground crew, maintenance equipment and spare parts. The next day the squadron continued to Sondre Stromfjord, an airfield located at the southwest part of Greenland. After a few hours rest, the pilots took off for the next destination which was Iqualuit in the north east corner of Canada.

The journey continued the next day, via Churchill to the Canadian air base Cold Lake.
The remaining two legs before reaching Eielson AFB was carried out on Monday July 17. After a short stop at Yellowknife in Canada, the Gripen landed as planned at Eielson in late afternoon and during the evening.

By that time, the Swedish pilots and the 23 technicians in the ground crew had reached a very significant milestone--the distance flown from Sweden was 5495 nautical miles.

Lt Col Ken Lindberg, commanding officer for Tango Red, is very proud of his team and is pleased with the Swedish team’s execution of the first phase of this exercise.

“I am very pleased that we arrived at Eielson AFB on time according to our schedule. The personnel have done an excellent job, both in the planning phase and the execution,” he said.

“During these past five days we have been operating out of some unusual places….all the while, we were continuously changing time zones towards 10 ours difference in the end,” Lindberg said.

Lindberg emphasized the importance for the Swedish AF to participate in Red Flag Alaska.  “This is the first time we have taken the Gripen to the US for an exercise and we are looking forward to be a part in this. It will give us a lot of important experiences for the future Swedish AF deployment outside Sweden,” he said.