Czech fighter pilots in the Baltic have made thirteen interception takeoffs

Czech fighter pilots in the Baltic have made thirteen interception takeoffs
Author: BAP 19,|Caption: Czech Gripen over Estonia
26 / 12 / 2019, 10:00

Thirteen interception takeoffs and a completed plan of flight hours spent in the air were carried out by Czech fighters operating from the Estonian base Ämari. Task Force flying JAS-39 Gripen jets has been deployed since 1st September 2019 to protect the airspace of the Baltic countries, which do not have their own jet fighter air force.

On Monday, 2nd September, Czech Minister of Defence Lubomír Metnar and his Estonian counterpart, Jüri Luik, attended the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission at the Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Taking over the operational task of guarding the Baltic airspace, whose countries do not have their own supersonic air force, from the Royal Air Force is the culmination of several months of preparation for more than seventy Czech soldiers. Members of the Army of the Czech Republic have been in full readiness since 1st September.

In addition to interception flights, Czech fighters also carry out training flights. "We are working with our alliance colleagues in the air and on the ground," the group commander Lt. Col. Pavlík said. Pilots thus spent hundreds of hours in joint training missions, for example, with Alliance advanced presence units (eFP). A specific type of training is also flights at low altitudes, which cannot be performed in the Czech Republic.

See also: Czech Defence News of the Week (1st – 8th November 2019)

“The re-assignment of the operational task is planned for 31st December. The flight of the Gripens and the first part of the personnel should then take place on 2nd January 2020, ” Colonel Pavlík added. The troops planned to return the second half of the contingent on 9th January 2020. Czech troops will be replaced at the Estonian base by members of the Polish Air Force with their F-16 Figting Falcons.

JAS-39 Gripen aircraft and soldiers primarily from the 21st Tactical Air Force Base Čáslav were transferred to the Estonian base in August. In the middle of the mission, part of the staff changed. Dozens of interception take-offs took place in the area over the course of four months.

See also: Czech Army’s Modernization Projects: JAS-39 Gripen

The Czech contingent in Estonia is part of the NATO airspace mission for the Baltic States, which do not have their own supersonic air force. Pilots with JAS-39 Gripen aircraft serve on standby under NATO's Integrated Air Defence and Missile Defence System. The Danish and Belgian Air Force with F-16 aircraft from the Lithuanian base of Siauliai are also involved in the protection of the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian airspace.


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