Auditioning for NATO?

Two Air Force F-15s practiced scrambling with Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Šiauliai AB, Lithuania, as part of the annual NATO-hosted exercise there earlier this week. Tensions with Russia recently prompted Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund to call for a break with the country’s historic nonalignment to “set the wheels in motion” to enter NATO, reported Deutche Welle. “NATO’s airspace borders that of Sweden and Finland and we have to work together to ensure safety of all our airways,” said Capt. Tyler Clark in an April 1 release. Though Sweden is not a NATO member, Swedish forces regularly train alongside Alliance forces as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. During the Baltic regional training event F-15s from RAF Lakenheath, Britain, practiced jointly intercepting a Lithuanian C-27J with the Swedes, guided by a NATO AWACS.