Warplanes: They Came From The Far North


December 10, 2011: The recent air operations over Libya included a Swedish contingent of eight Gripen fighters. This was the first combat for the Swedish Air Force in over fifty years. The last one was also a peacekeeping mission, over the Congo, using Tunnan jet fighters. Over Libya, the Swedish Gripens carried out 650 reconnaissance and air defense missions (in other words, they did not shoot at anyone). The Swedes carried out about 2.4 percent of the sorties flown over Libya.

This operation was not without some problems. Since the Swedes do not belong to any international military organization, they do not regularly train with forces from other countries. So when they arrived at the Italian base they were to operate from they found that NATO used a different type of aviation fuel, and that Sweden had misunderstood how their aircraft were to operate using NATO codes (for communications). Both these problems were quickly sorted out.

Sweden's smaller neighbor, Denmark, is a member of NATO and sent six F-16 fighters. The Danes flew 600 sorties, and dropped 17 percent of all bombs used in Libya. The Danes flew the last attack mission over Libya. Denmark was also the only contingent that had laser guided bunker buster bombs. The 909 kg (2,000 pound) BLU-109 can penetrate five meters (16 feet) of concrete. These were used to destroy some underground Libyan command bunkers.


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