The Swedish Armed Forces and the US Air Force (USAF) are conducting a joint military exercise in south Sweden.

During the exercise, Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets escorted the US B-52 Stratofortress of the Bomber Task Force into Swedish airspace. The aircraft descended to a lower altitude above Småland county with no threat to public safety.

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber that can be used for a variety of missions.

The drill is part of a recurring exercise pattern in line with the established cooperation between the US and Sweden.

In a statement, Swedish Armed Forces said that participation in such exercises is aligned with the country’s defence policy.

It will help in improving interoperability and exercise activities in the Baltic Sea region, the statement added.

The Swedish Armed Forces Joint Operations chief lieutenant general Michael Claesson said: “This type of exercise is a vital part of Swedish defence capability. To cooperate with the US increases our capability to defend Sweden and contributes to stability and security in our region.”

In December 2021, the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) contracted Saab for new equipment for the Gripen E multi-role fighter jet. The deal, supplemental to the original contract, was valued at around 153m.

Gripen E is an improved version of the Gripen C/D multi-role aircraft and will replace the Swiss Air Force’s Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fleet.