Jas 39 Unit – The Air Force’s contribution to Trident Juncture 18

The Trident Juncture 18 exercise has begun. For Sweden’s part, qualified units from all of the combat forces of the Swedish Armed Forces are participating, and the contribution from the Air Force is a fighter unit named Jas 39 Unit.

On Monday afternoon, seven Jas 39 Gripen were re-stationed from F 21 in Luleå to Bodö in Norway in order to participate in Trident Juncture 18. Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces
On Monday afternoon, seven Jas 39 Gripen were re-stationed from F 21 in Luleå to Bodö in Norway in order to participate in Trident Juncture 18. Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces
Head of division Joakim Saviniemi Photo: Louise Levin/Swedish Armed Forces

In the scenario for the exercise, Norway is attacked by a fictitious foreign power. The attack triggers NATO’s collective defenceaccording to Article 5, and Allied countries intervene in support of Norway. In accordance with the Swedish Declaration of Solidarity, the fictitious exercise scenario - the attack on the neighbouring country of Norway - means that Sweden is prepared to provide support.

“We are good at what we do and our capabilities are in demand. We are building security together with others and by participating in Trident Juncture we are strengthening our capabilities - both nationally and with others”, says head of division Joakim Saviniemi.

On Monday, the majority of the Swedish personnel participating in the exercise arrived at Bodö in Norway, in order to prepare to receive the seven Gripen aircraft re-stationed from F 21 in Luleå and to prepare the sites allocated to the Swedish force.

“During the exercise, we will fly two to three missions a day with four Jas 39 Gripen, except for Sundays which are no-fly days, and when we plan the flights for the following day.”

In order to participate in an exercise of this size with up to 100 aircraft in the air at the same time, planning and re-planning are required. The days before the exercise are fully scheduled with briefings to ensure that the exercise can be conducted safely.

Flight safety always comes first. So planning is important in order to eliminate risks at an early stage and so that all flying units are clear about their mission, in terms of both time and space. Hours upon hours are dedicated to planning ahead of the execution of a flight mission. But equally important is the evaluation afterwards. This will deliver the results and conclusion from the completed flight mission.

The flight mission comes in the form of order, Air Tasking Order, approximately one day before the execution is scheduled, to the person responsible for the planning - a Mission Commander, MC. An MC has two tasks - to ensure that the tactical flight mission can be accomplished and to execute the flight mission safely.

The first thing an MC does is to analyse the mission and acquire the current intelligence situation that may affect how the flight mission can be executed. It is also important to keep on top of the resources available, such as tanker aircraft, but also of any limitations.

“We have several Swedish pilots who are Mission Commander graduates who will be directing flight missions during Trident Juncture. It is an acknowledgement that we Swedes can deliver.”

For the exercise to be as realistic as possible, and for the participants to be able to practice in a larger multinational air force group, the participating flight units will act as both defenders and fictitious opponents.

“We are here to develop our interoperability, that is, our capacity to cooperate with other countries. Primarily with the USA and Finland but also with NATO that is leading the exercise. It’s all about practicing the military strategic concept. For our part, it's about acting in the air defence role, but also the engagement of land or ground targets that comes in later during the exercise”, concludes Joakim Saviniemi.