Sweden, along with Finland, applied to join NATO in May 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Finland became the thirty-first member of the largest military alliance in the world on April 4, 2023.

Sweden organized Operation Aurora 2023, which is the largest Swedish military exercise in 30 years.

The operation spread across large parts of the Scandinavian country amidst the backdrop of its efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Over the weekend, the exercises turned south with the temporary deployment of the US-made Patriot medium-range air defense system.

Sweden announced the purchase of this system in 2018 and delivered last year, several months before the war in Ukraine broke out.

Amid roars of locally built Swedish Gripens, Carl Johan Edström, the head of joint operations for the Swedish Armed Forces, said the Patriots fit perfectly into the country’s arsenal, and described Sweden’s air defenses as one of the most modern and robust in northern Europe.

Sweden, along with Finland, applied to join NATO in May 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland became the 31st member of the world’s largest military alliance on April 4 after the parliaments of all NATO member states ratified its membership, while Sweden’s accession faltered due to opposition from Türkiye, whose president says his country must first resolve its disputes with Stockholm.

The Aurora 2023 exercise, which showcases Sweden’s full range of defense resources and capabilities for joint missions with other NATO allies, seeks to make a point the government has been making for months: Sweden will bring security to NATO, not just beneficiary.

“With this system, together with the Air Force of Sweden, we have an air defense that I think will enhance NATO’s capability in the Baltic Sea region,” said Mikael Beck, commander of the Swedish Armed Forces Air Defense Regiment.

There are hopes that Sweden will join the alliance before US President Joe Biden meets other NATO heads of government in Vilnius, Lithuania, next July.

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