Flying in Iceland offers particular scenarios for Czech Gripen
Ready for the NATO mission - A Czech pilot next to his JAS-39 Gripen inside a shelter at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland. Photo by Martin Kral, Czech Air Force
28 Oct 2016
KEFLAVIK, Iceland - When the Czech Air Force deployed 75 men and women and five JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets to provide peacetime interception capabilities to Iceland at the end of September, for some of the pilots this was their first time operating above sea.
"For such missions you have to don neoprene protective clothing for emergency situations over sea,” said Major Tomas Merta, one of the pilots. Weather is another particular challenge. "Strong winds are also special here in Iceland. Sometimes we experience side winds of up to 50 km per hour; if these winds are too strong the jets have to stay on the ground. It is safety first at all times. So far we have not been asked to scramble our jets for an actual emergency situation. However, we conducted 91 training flights logging almost 115 hours providing the crews invaluable flying experience, ” he added.
"The Czech Air Force is conducting scrambles of our jets in two places simultaneously –in the Czech Republic and, some 3,000 kilometers away from our homeland, here in Iceland,” said General Joseph Bečvář, Chief of the General Staff during a visit to the detachment. "This deployment is practical proof of our professional capabilities. And there is the international dimension of the mission – the Czech Air Force contributes to NATO’s Integrated Air Defence System.”
General Bečvář confirmed that the next foreign deployment for the Czech Gripen fighters is scheduled for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing in 2019.
Story by AIRCOM Public Affairs Office based on information provided by Maxim Svancara, Czech Air Force