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Swedish Armed Forces Integral Role in NATO’s Neptune Strike Exercise


Swedish Armed Forces Integral Role in NATO’s Neptune Strike Exercise

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Swedish Armed Forces recently participated in the Neptune Strike exercise (NEST), showcasing the combined prowess of its Navy and Air Force with NATO allies. This joint endeavor underscored the alliance’s ability to swiftly address threats and safeguard shared interests. The exercise, conducted in two phases, emphasized the integration of capabilities aimed at defending strategic locations and deterring potential adversaries. Participants from various naval and air combat forces, spanning multiple nations, engaged in operations across the southern Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Integral to the exercise was the coordination of sensors from both the Air Force and the Navy to establish a comprehensive situational picture and pinpoint target locations. Utilizing tactical data links such as Link 16, this information was shared in near real-time, enabling NATO units to effectively combat enemy naval forces. The Swedish Armed Forces contribution included the deployment of fighter divisions from Skaraborg’s air flotilla and Visby-class corvettes such as HMS Visby, HMS Härnösand, and HMS Gävle. The precision of joint combat was further enhanced through synchronized target positioning across naval vessels, aircraft, and command centers.

Swedish and Spanish air forces assemble after completed naval target mission.
Swedish and Spanish air forces assemble after completed naval target mission. (Photo by Forsvarsmakten)

The Swedish Air Force’s involvement, led by the 71st and 72nd Fighter Aviation Divisions, focused on orchestrating naval target attacks. Mission commanders meticulously analyzed assignments, ensuring safe and effective execution of tasks. Collaboration with allied forces, including the Spanish Air Force, facilitated maximum operational impact. Support from Spanish tanker aircraft and an AWACS command aircraft underscored the multinational nature of the exercise. In summary, Neptune Strike exemplified NATO’s commitment to collective defense through seamless integration of capabilities and swift response to evolving threats.

NATO classes the Neptune Strike series of drills, usually held twice a year, as “enhanced vigilance activity” intended to demonstrate NATO’s capabilities and strength and enhance Allied connectivity. “Ranging from the Central Mediterranean to the Black Sea region and all the way up to the Baltic Sea, STRIKFORNATO’s execution will blanket three Joint Operations Areas and assert NATO’s capability to protect every inch of Allied territory with the naval resources that are organic to the theatre. Neptune Strike 24-1 and involves Albania, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.

Swedish Armed Forces Integral Role in NATO's Neptune Strike Exercise
HMS Härnösand and HMS Gävle are two of the units that participated in Neptune Strike 24. (Photo by Forsvarsmakten)

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