The Czech Ministry of Defence is moving forward with giving the country’s Air Force 14 SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters a profound ground attack role. A tender for the right weaponry is written, Czech media report.
The news comes as the Czech Air Force Gripens are committing again to the defence of fellow NATO member Iceland. A sole air-defence mission, it makes the Czech pilots do in what they are trained at: fly sorties against other aircraft.
But the Swedish-made Gripen jets can do much more. They were designed to also perform air strikes, provide close-air support and to fly tactical reconnaissance missions. The Swedish Air Forces uses its Gripens already in those roles for decades. The Czech haven’t given their Gripen pilots the training nor the weapons yet to do anything else than air defence, out of cost-saving perspective.
Prague is aiming for the Gripens to have full air-to-ground capability by the year 2018, while Hungary is moving towards a Gripen ground attack role as well. Meanwhile the Czech Air Force is hoping to persuade its government to lease another six Gripen jets from Sweden.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Eyes on new targets for this Czech Gripen pilot. (Image © Rostislav Lukáš. See more photographs here)