NATO JAS 39 Gripen Fighters Already Giving Russia's Air Force Problems

JAS 39 Gripen from Sweden NATO

NATO JAS 39 Gripen Fighters Already Giving Russia's Air Force Problems

The Swedish-built JAS 39 Gripen has been in service with NATO members the Czech Republic and Hungary, but on Monday aircraft from the Swedish Air Force took part in the first intercept of Russian aircraft as part of a NATO air mission. It came just a day after the Nordic nation officially the international alliance.

Summary: Just days after officially joining NATO, the Swedish Air Force marked its integration into the Alliance with the first intercept of Russian aircraft over the Baltic Sea. This operation saw Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jets joining forces with German Luftwaffe Eurofighters and Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcons to intercept a Russian Antonov An-26 and a Tupolev Tu-134. 

Swedish JAS 39 Gripen Jets in Historic NATO Intercept Over Baltic Sea

The Swedish-built JAS 39 Gripen has been in service with NATO members the Czech Republic and Hungary, but on Monday aircraft from the Swedish Air Force took part in the first intercept of Russian aircraft as part of a NATO air mission. It came just a day after the Nordic nation officially the international alliance.

Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jets launched under NATO arrangements to safeguard the skies over the Baltic Sea flying with German Luftwaffe Eurofighters and Belgian Air Component (BAC) F-16AM Fighting Falcons, NATO Air Command announced. The NATO warbirds intercepted a Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) Antonov An-26 (NATO reporting name "Cash) transport aircraft and Tupolev Tu-134 (NATO reporting name Crusty") military airliner over the Baltic region.

"This swift coordinated reaction of NATO jets from Belgium, Germany and Sweden safeguarding the skies over the Baltic Sea region underlines the close integration and responsive command and control arrangements within the Alliance," the command said in a statement.

NATO Air Command shared images from the sortie on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

The alliance further noted that it served as an impressive demonstration of the deep integration the Swedish Air Force has achieved with NATO Air Policing forces and the close and smooth interoperability in support of safeguarding NATO over the Baltic Sea.

NATO fighter jets regularly take to the skies to intercept and identify Russian planes flying in international airspace near member nation territory. For the German Luftwaffe, it was the second scramble since taking over the Air Policing mission at Lielvarde on March 1, while Belgian jets have been scrambled roughly a dozen times since beginning their mission at Šiauliai on December 1, 2023.

Sweden Has Become a Major NATO Asset in the Baltic Region

It was also last week that a pair of Swedish Air Force JAS 39 Gripen multirole fighters escorted a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress over Stockholm to commemorate Sweden joining NATO. During the planned flight, the aircraft flew over Avicii Arena, Sweden’s Parliament House, the Stockholm Arlanda Airport, and the Uppsala Airport.

The Swedish Air Force also conducted its first reconnaissance flight near the Russian border – with one flight made by a Swedish Gulfstream S102B Korpen GIV-SP Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), a heavily modified Gulfstream IV equipped with signal intelligence gathering sensors. The aircraft reportedly flew over Poland near the borders of Russia's Kaliningrad enclave and Belarus. A second flight was carried out by a Saab 340 early warning and control (AEQ&C) aircraft over the Baltic Sea. It is capable of tracking ships, planes, and missiles up to 190-250 miles while at an altitude of 20,000 feet.

Sweden officially joined the international military alliance this month after more than two centuries of neutrality, driven by Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].