Slovakia is not leasing or buying Saab Gripen fighter jets and neither is it seeking a joint Gripen unit with the Czech Republic anymore. According to local media this week, funds don’t allow for eight JAS39 Gripens to be leased or purchased.
In Slovakia, the Saab Gripen would have replaced a small fleet of ageing MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets that have been in service since the late eighties. The country is now looking to keep eight MiGs in the air for longer, with contacts already with Russian suppliers.
Czech Gripens may still be called upon in case this change of plans leads to reduced serviceability of Slovakian MiGs. The Czechs would be able to guard Slovakian airspace for roughly three months.
UPDATED 4 November | Eight former Czech Air Force L-159 Alca trainer and light attack aircaft are heading to Iraq in November. They will join the Iraqi Air Force in a deal brokered by US company Draken International. A total of 21 Aero Vodochody L-159 will transfer to Draken International, with an initial eight of those moving on to Iraq. Four more are to follow, plus three spares.
UPDATE | The first L-159s left the Czech Republic on Wednesday 4 November, wearing Iraqi markings. See pics below.
The deal has been in the works for quite some time, with negotiations lasting 18 months and signatures finally inked in 2014. The number of aircaft sold varied a little while talks lasted, but both parties settled for 21 in the end. The Czech Air Force still has 24 L-159 Alcas in service with 212 squadron at Čáslav airbase.
Czech Air Force Saab Gripen pilots this weekend honored their combined total of 20,000 flight hours on the Saab JAS39 Gripen. The milestone was celebrated during the Ostrava NATO Days airshow. The flight hours were accumulated during ten years of flying the Gripen. Back then, the Czechs were the first to trade their Soviet style MiGS for Western style fighter aircraft.
Saab’s Deputy CEO Lennart Sindhal presented a commemorative glass plaque to the 211. taktické letky (tactical squadron) to mark its 20,000 Gripen flight hours and successful operational deployments within NATO. Recent deployments to Iceland were also recognised. The award was accepted by Colonel Petr Hromek, commander of the 21st Air Force Base, Čáslav.
The Czechs were alread known to be the most extensive user of Saab’s fighter aircraft. Their Gripens fly more hours than even their Swedish coounterparts. The Czech Air Force Saab Gripen fleet is fourteen strong, including twelve single seat C-models and two two seater D-models.
For the second time in just one year, Czech Air Force Saab Gripens and their crews made themselves at home in Iceland recently. Flying from Keflavik airbase, they provided Iceland with a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). The deployment began on 23 July and ended on Friday 28 August with 90 sorties and some 150 hours in the air chalked up. An impression in pics.
For the second year in a row Saab JAS 39 Gripen jets of the Czech Air Force provide NATO member Island with is air defence. Five Gripens arrived on 23 July 2015, refueled in mid-air by an Italian Air Force KC-767.
The first operational missions were flown this week, flying from Keflavik Air Base – strategically located in between Europe and North America. From the arrival flight we’ve received some footage from our friends within the Czech Air Force, that we love to share with you.
The five Czech fighter jets are from 211. taktické letky (tactical squadron), which operates 14 of these aircraft. So far the Gripens have only been tasked with air defence, but that will change. As we reported earlier the Czech jets are on their way to do what they have been designed to do: multi-tasking that includes ground attack and close air support.
This time, Sweden provided extensive support for the Czech mission in Iceland. Only six weeks were available for preparing the deployment. The Swedish provided an inventory of spare parts and ground support hardware and contributed by flying a Boeing C-17 from the multi-national Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) to Iceland. The Globemaster flew to Iceland twice, carrying approximately 50 tons of supplies.