The Czech Ground Air Defence joins the NRF

The Czech Ground Air Defence joins the NRF
Author: Flickr, Jan Kouba, Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces of the Czech Republic|Caption: RBS-70
21 / 05 / 2018, 11:15

Until 2020 the soldiers of the Strakonice air defence regiment which forms the core element of the Ground Air Defence Task Force are attached to the NATO Response Force headed by the German 9th Armoured Brigade. In 2019 they will join the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

The Czech ground air defence is currently provided by the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment based in Strakonice in southern Bohemia, which belongs to the Czech Air Force. It’s mission is to provide air defence of the Czech Republic and crucial installations (like nuclear power plants, air bases) and industrial agglomerations or important communication junctions against military and non-military attack from the Czech airspace. The regiment also provides air defence for the combat troops.

The Regiment is formed of two Air Defence Missile Groups. The 251st group is armed with four batteries of the 2K12 Kub (2К12 "Куб", NATO reporting name: SA-6 „Gainful“), a system developed since 1958, deployed and proved effective in many conflicts especially in the Middle East (starting with the Yomkipur War).

A typical 2K12 battery consists of five tracked vehicles, the 1S91 radar (SURN vehicle, NATO designation „Straight Flush“) with a range of 75 km equipped with a continuous wave illuminator, in addition to an optical sight, and four triple-missile transporter erector launchers (TELs), and two trucks (on the Zil-131 chassis) carrying three spare missiles and a crane each. The intercept altitude of the 3M9M3E missile is 25–14,000 m, and engagement range is 4.4–23 km.

In 2007 the SURN vehicle was upgraded to SURN CZ standard especially by linking the 2K12 system with the RACCOS which is a mobile communication, information, command and control system used to control firing that can be operated by ground based air defence units at stations and during relocations. The modernization made the 2K12 system fully compatible with the NATO standards. In 2020 the 2K12 system should be replaced with a new one, the German company Diehl, Norwegian Kongsberg, American Lockheed Martin, British MBDA a Israeli Rafael were adressed in 2016 by the Czech Ministry of Defence in a market research. The new system might rather be built on a wheeled chassis.

The 252nd Air Defence Missile Group operates sixteen 9K35 Strela-10’s (9К35 «Стрела-10», NATO reporting name: SA-13 „Gopher“), which is a highly mobile, visually aimed, optical/infrared-guided, low-altitude, short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.

9K35M Strela-10

The Strela-10, developed since 1969, is a successor of the 9K31 Strela-1 (SA-9 "Gaskin") system, which is mounted on the light BDRM wheeled chassis; the Strela-10 is built on a more mobile tracked chassis with more room for equipment and missile reloads. The currect variant deployed by the Czech Air Force is designated S-10M2D/IFF. It has been upgraded in 2012 with advanced electronics, and like the 2K12 system it is linked with the ROCCOS fire control system. It’s maximum intercept altitude is 3500 m, and engagement range is 5000 m.

The group is also armed with sixteen RBS-70’s (Swedish Robotsystem 70) which is a man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) designed for anti-aircraft warfare in all climate zones and with little to no support from other forces, produced by the Swedish Saab Bofors Dynamics A.B. It’s maximum intercept altitude is 5000 m, and engagement range is 300–8,000 m.

Until 2020 the soldiers of the Strakonice air defence regiment which forms the core element of the Ground Air Defence Task Force are attached to the NATO Response Force headed by the German 9th Armoured Brigade. The 9th Armoured Brigade is part of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), NATO’s premiere rapid response force. Consisting of land, air, maritime and special forces components, the 5,000-strong group can deploy within days of a crisis. Germany will lead the VJTF in 2019. 

The NATO Response Force (NRF), created in 2002, and subordinated to Supreme Allied Commander Europe, is a rapidly deployable technologically advanced force made up of land, air, martime and Special Operations Forces (SOF) components to provide collective defence, rapide military response in case of an emerging crsis, peace-support operations or protection to critical infrastructure and support distaster relief. It is composed of the Command and Control element, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), Initial Follow On Forces Group (high-readiness forces that rapidly follow the deployment of the VJTF), and the Response Forces Pool from which the needed forces are drawn according to the situation, whether they are specialized in command and control, combat or support roles.

To participate to the NRF the troops must meet strict standards. During the 6-18 month period prior to assuming the role of an NRF high-readiness unit, various training and exercises are held to integrate the national contingents and standardize their procedures.

Like the Tobruq Legacy 2017 (the 25th regiment is nicknamed „Tobrucký“), which took place across Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Romania between 11 and 22 July 2017.  Participating troops were trained in joint air command and control structures, as well as defensive operations within the European airspace.

"One of the main goals of the exercise is to improve the reactions and response time of the units in performing ground air defence tasks within a multinational task force, as well as increasing the level of interoperability between coalition units during a combined air defence operation,” Czech Republic exercises leader Lieutenant Colonel Jaroslav Daverny said. More than 500 soldiers from six Nato countries trained out of the Hradiště Military Training Area, the Náměšť Air Base and Strakonice, where the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment is based. The Czechs (of the 252nd Air Defence Missile Group) and Lithuanians trained with the RBS-70 and S-10M air defence systems, the Americans employed the AVENGER, the Slovaks used the IGLA, and the Hungarians used MISTRAL systems.

The Ground Air Defence Task Force comprises approximately 200 soldiers. It consists of an air defence missile battery, a support company and National Support Element. The unit also includes a complement of personnel and specialists from other Czech military units and installations. From the beggining of 2018 the Task Force is part of the high-readiness forces, in 2019 it will join the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

Further reading:

The New NATO Force Structure 

NATO Response Force / Very High Readiness Joint Task Force

Nato’s ground-based air defence units complete Tobruq Legacy 2017

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