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."
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.
Despite its formal non-aligned status, Sweden has seen regular, albeit secret, security cooperation with NATO since the 1960s. Cooperation has increased significantly over the past several months, with Swedish efforts to improve cooperation with NATO serving as part of the growing anti-Russian paranoia sweeping through Sweden. The country's media has repeatedly reported sighting invisible Russian subs lurking off the country's coast, alleged that Russian fighter planes of flying provocatively close to the border, and accused Moscow of stepping up its espionage through the country.