Updated 22 May 2015 | A Saab JAS 39D Gripen two-seat multi-role fighter of the Hungarian Air Force has crashed at Čáslav Air Base in the Czech Republic, located about 40 miles (67 km) east of the capital of Prague. The accident on 19 May 2015 happened during tri-annual Saab Gripen exercise Lion Effort 2015.
More info on Lion Effort 2015 is here and great pics – taken last week – are here
The jet went off at the end of the runway at high speed. The crew of two reportedly is okay after ejecting slightly before the aircraft left the runway. The cause of the crash is being investigated.
The plane is a write off. The entire cockpit section was destroyed, as well as almost the entire vertical tail and large other parts of the jet. It is not certain yet if Budapest will ask Sweden to deliver a Gripen D replacement or if the lease contract foresees in a replacement, which in that case has to come from the current Swedish Air Force inventory and could put a strain on Sweden’s own training capabilities.
— Gripen News (@GripenNews) 19 mei 2015
The Gripen accident is a big smudge on Lion Effort 2015, the international Gripen exercise currently running at the Czech air base. Six Gripens of the locally based 211. Taktické letky (Tactical squadron) as well as five Hungarian Air Force Gripens and 11 JAS 39s jets from the Swedish Air Force plus airplanes from other nations conduct several types of training during a two week period. According to a spokesperson at Čáslav airbase, the crashed Gripen was a visitor and didn’t participate in the Lion Effort exercise.
Like the Czech Air Force, the Hungarian Air Force leases 14 Gripen planes from Sweden. The Hungarian jets would be owned by the country’s tax payers in 2026. The Czech lease the jets till at least 2027. According to some Swedish sources, experts of the Swedish Armed Forces and SAAB are on stand-by or even on their way from Sweden to Čáslav to assist in the investigation.
The crash comes ahead of an airshow at Čáslav on Saturday, which according to the latest information is going ahead as planned.
Saab in Linköping built almost 250 Gripen jets so far. Five of those have crashed. In February 1989 a prototype hard-landed on Linköping-SAAB airport (overcorrections by pilot, who was lighly injured), followed by an air show crash in Stockholm in August 1993 (stall after overcorrection; pilot – the same as during the 1989 crash – again OK).
Three Swedish Air Force Gripens have crashed while in service: in September 1989 (in lake Vänern during a dogfight; pilot ejected OK), in June 2005 in Southern Sweden (pilot error, pilot ejected OK) and in April 2007 when the pilot was apparently ejected by the plane due to unexpected G-suit inflating and deflating. The 2007 crash marked the first for the newer C-model. Today’s Gripen crash is the first one of the jet of a non-Swedish operator.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Hungarian Air Force (Magyar Légierő) SAAB JAS 39D Gripen. Image taken at Schleswig Airbase, Germany, during the 2014 NATO Tiger Meet. (Image © Marcel Burger)