The author of the book, Mikael Holmström, a military affairs reporter for the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, says a former chief of staff for the squadron told him that some 10 civilian aircraft were used for training and recognisance missions over Sweden and its Nordic neighbors, sometimes landing at military airfields and wearing local uniforms. The commander said the unit was kept secret even from Swedish politicians, and was discretely protected by the Säpo security police. Pilots operated under code names and received their salaries in cash.
Despite its ostensible status as non-aligned in relation to the major military blocs, Sweden’s Western orientation during the 1945 to 1991 Cold War was an open secret on both sides. During the 1950s, Sweden sent medical assistance to the UN forces fighting the Soviet-backed North Korean military, and convicted at least two of its own citizens of spying for the Soviets. And it has long been known that Sweden provided the American CIA with intercepted Soviet signals intelligence.
Holmström’s new book doesn’t dramatically change the overall picture of Sweden’s cautious post-World War II history, but fills in some details not previously known to the general public, including claims of a formal, albeit very secret, security guarantee from the United States that would have allowed US Marines and Air Force pilots to use Swedish territory in the event of war with the Soviet Union.