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US B-52 Bombers Over Sweden to Send Moscow a 'Security Political Signal'

2015-05-23 01:50

Sweden is doing its best to send Moscow a "security political signal." The country's armed forces are getting set to take part in two NATO military exercises next week, including an exercise featuring two American B-52 strategic bombers flying from the US to simulate the dropping of naval mines on the Swedish coast, Radio Sweden reports.

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US B-52 Bombers Over Sweden to Send Moscow a 'Security Political Signal'. 29860.jpeg
The exercise featuring the B-52s, codenamed Baltops, is set to take place between June 5-20, featuring 4,500 personnel, 50 ships and over 50 combat aircraft. The bombers themselves are set to fly non-stop from the US and back, dropping a payload of simulated mines outside Ravlunda, southern Sweden on June 13. This will be the first time that B-52s will carry out exercises over the country, with the operation aimed at simulating the defense of the coast from a hypothetical Russian naval invasion.

Debating the exercise in the country's parliament, ruling coalition Green Party MPs expressed their unease over the presence of the bombers, with party foreign policy spokesman Walter Mutt saying that the B-52 is associated with the Vietnam War in the minds of many Swedes.

Commenting on the exercises, military spokesman Major General Karl Engelbrektson noted that in addition to its efforts to work out "different operative capabilities," they are also meant to send "clear security political signals that we do these things together with others." Engelbrektson emphasized that "how Russia interprets that, they can decide for themselves."

Baltops is just one of three NATO-led exercises the country is participating in between May and June. On Monday, an 11-day, nine-country exercise involving 115 combat aircraft and 3,600 personnel is set to begin over Sweden and northern Norway, with Sweden providing 16 Gripen multirole fighters. The exercises will involve simulated bombing runs on ground targets, airborne attacks, anti-air artillery, low-level flying and mid-air refueling, all ostensibly aimed at coordinating efforts in cooperation between NATO countries, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland.

Last week, Swedish personnel began their participation in Open Spirit 2015, a NATO-led naval exercise in the territorial waters of Estonia involving the search for unexploded naval ordnance left over from the first and second world wars.

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