The Czech Air Force started guarding the airspace of NATO-member Iceland on 10 October 2014. Five Vzdušné síly Armády České republiky SAAB JAS 39C Gripen fighters from the 211. taktické letky (tactical squadron) – almost half the Czech fighter force – landed at Keflavik Air Base supported by an Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker.
Until 3 December the Czech will provide the muscle of NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing mission, initiated after the steady US decommissioned their Iceland Defence Force and its fighter unit in 2006. Since Iceland doesn’t have a military of its own, other NATO members provide protection for the strategically located island in the Atlantic Ocean.
The first Czech troops to support the deployment already landed at Iceland on 3 October, with another 40 personnel from Gripen base Čáslav following on the 6th.
Despite its small fighter force of only 14 SAAB JAS 39C/D jets, the Czech Republic contributes fully to NATO. Czech Gripens provided a similar protection for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Baltic Air Policing) in 2009 and 2012. Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest and Dennis Spronk paid an exclusive visit to the Czech fighter unit at its homebase earlier this year (click here).
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger