Wednesday, April 17, 2024

US Marine Corps F-35 lands in Sweden for first time

Four U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters touched down at Kallax Air Base in Lulea, Sweden, marking the first-ever landing of a U.S. F-35 in the country.

This significant event took place during Exercise Nordic Response 24, showcasing the growing partnership between the United States and Sweden in defense operations.

Led by Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 542 and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, the distributed aviation operations included ground refueling maneuvers, utilizing a U.S. KC-130J Super Hercules to support the F-35B JSF aircraft. Brigadier General Tommy Petersson, Deputy Commander of the Swedish Air Force, welcomed the U.S. Marine Corps to Kallax air force base, emphasizing the importance of agile combat employment within the framework of the joint exercise.


Distributed aviation operations, a method aimed at challenging adversary targeting efforts, played a central role in the exercise. It involved the coordinated deployment of aviation assets across various echelons of command, promoting interoperability between U.S. and Swedish forces. Maj. Gen. Scott Benedict, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, highlighted the significance of this collaboration, underscoring the importance of mobility in ensuring operational success.

Both VMFA-542 and VMGR-252 deployed from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, demonstrating the U.S. Marine Corps’ commitment to international engagements. For VMFA-542, Exercise Nordic Response 24 served as its inaugural overseas exercise since achieving initial operational capability with the F-35B Lightning II jet squadron. The exercise provided valuable training opportunities, allowing the squadron to enhance its core mission capabilities in anti-air warfare and active air defense.

Additionally, VMGR-252 played a vital role in supporting Marine Air-Ground Task Force objectives, showcasing the versatility of the KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft. Through aviation operations conducted in cold-weather conditions, the squadron bolstered aircrew proficiency while facilitating combat-assault transport and aerial refueling missions.

Exercise Nordic Response 24, spanning two weeks, served as a comprehensive demonstration of military prowess across land, maritime, and aviation domains. Against the backdrop of challenging arctic terrain, participating forces engaged in realistic scenarios, highlighting their offensive and defensive capabilities. Maj. Gen. Benedict emphasized the value of partnership, stressing the importance of learning from allies’ experiences to enhance operational effectiveness.

As Exercise Nordic Response 24 concludes, it represents a continuation of NATO’s commitment to collective defense and interoperability among member states.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more