US strategic bombers deployed in northern Sweden

By Astri Edvardsen, High North News - February 28, 2024
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Two US B-1B Lancer strategic bombers are currently carrying out a Bomber Task Force mission out of Luleå-Kallax Air Base in Norrbotten, the northernmost county of Sweden. “BTF operations provide US leaders with strategic options to assure Allies and partners, while deterring potential adversary aggression across the globe,” states the US Air Forces in Europe. (Photo: Jesper Sundström/Swedish

Two US Air Force B-1B Lancers are now operating out of Luleå-Kallax Air Base in Northern Sweden. “In these uneasy times when NATO membership is imminent, it is important to have committed partners,” says the Chief of the Swedish Air Force, Major General Jonas Wikman.

On Friday, two US B-1B Lancer strategic bombers arrived for deployment at Luleå-Kallax Air Base, the main base of the Swedish Norrbotten Wing (F 21).

The air base has been selected to become a Swedish-American military agreed area in the countries’ new agreement on bilateral defense cooperation. Processing of the agreement in the Swedish parliament and entry into force should be possible by the end of 2024, according to Sweden’s MoD.

The bombers are assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and are deployed to Sweden for Bomber Task Force 24-2 joint training.

“During the deployment, the bomber crews and support personnel will integrate with the Swedish Armed Forces, NATO Allies and other international partners to synchronize capabilities and assure security commitments across the U.S. European Command area of responsibility,” informs the US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE).

“In these uneasy times when NATO membership is imminent, it is important to have committed partners. We have had joint exercises with the Bomber Task Force repeatedly, where we have practiced the entire chain, from escort and liaison to sharp weapons action. Now our cooperation continues in that the B1-B Lancer is once again based on Swedish soil for joint training, says Chief of the Swedish Air Force, Major General Jonas Wikman.

On Monday, Sweden’s application for Nato membership was approved by Hungary’s parliament and the path is now open for the country to finally join the alliance.

Operational unpredictability

US strategic bombers landed in Sweden for the first time in June 2023, also at Luleå-Kallax Air Base. The Swedish Air Force had previously practiced regularly with the Bomber Task Force, but the deployment of B-1B Lancers on Swedish soil was a new step in the cooperation.

The ongoing visit to Luleå-Kallax Air Base marks the first multi-day deployment of US Air Force bomber aircraft to Sweden.

In recent years, US strategic bombers of various types have trained together with Nordic air forces several times in the High North, such as last autumn when B-2 Spirits were deployed in Iceland.

“The US routinely demonstrates its commitment to NATO Allies and partners through BTF missions. Through these missions, US Air Forces Europe enables dynamic force employment in the European theater, providing strategic predictability and assurance for Allies and partners while contributing to deterrence by introducing greater operational unpredictability for potential adversaries,” states USAFE.

“This timely opportunity to exercise in the Arctic region is incredible.”
Lt. Col. Benjamin Jamison, 37th Bomb Squadron director of operations and BTF 24-2 lead

Demonstrates commitment and reach

Three weeks ago, B-1B Lancer bombers from Ellsworth Air Base carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and now a pair of them are in place in Sweden for a BTF mission, the 28th Bomb Wing points out.

“Once again the Raiders of Ellsworth have validated our ability to conduct long range precision strike and provide global reach for America. This BTF mission clearly demonstrates the U.S. commitment to NATO Allies and partners,” says Col. Derek Oakley, 28th Bomb Wing Commander.

The capability to generate sorties from locations like Luleå is a key focus area, according to USAFE.

“This timely opportunity for our crews to exercise our collective defense capabilities with our Swedish partners, soon to be NATO Allies, in the Arctic region is incredible. It demonstrates our ironclad commitment to our partners and Allies, shows our expansive reach, and sends a strong deterrent message to potential adversaries,” adds Lt. Col. Benjamin Jamison, 37th Bomb Squadron director of operations and BTF 24-2 lead.

In the coming weeks, it may be that the B-1B Lancer aircraft will participate in Nordic Response, the winter’s major military exercise in the High North. It starts on March 3 and will take place across northern parts of Norway, Finland and Sweden.


High North News is an independent newspaper published by the High North Center at Nord University in Bodø, Norway.