The Hungarian Government is adding the close air support role to its 14 SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen fighters. It allocated 9 million euro (US$ 11.75 million) for additional training of crew and planes, Hungarian news agency MTI reported on 25 April 2014.
The SAAB Gripen is a multi-role platform, but the Hungarian Air Force fields the aircraft in the air-defence role only. Pilots lack the training to perform air-to-ground tasks effectively. It was planned to give the Gripen jocks that possibility later, but with the additional money it has been fast tracked.
The Hungarian Ministry of Defence wants the country’s armed forces (Magyar Légierö) to have the Gripens fully CAS-ready when Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia will provide the European Union with a rapid to deploy Battle Group in 2016.
Twelve JAS 39C single-seat and two JAS 39D twin-seat fighters operate out of Kecskemét Airbase. Since January 2014 they not only provide airborne air-defence to Hungary, but to Slovenia as well.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: New money will bring the Hungarian Gripen fighter jets, such as this one, closer to the action on the ground (Image © Marcel Burger)