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Czech Republic’s Ministry of Defense recently announced that it is in the process of procuring Gripen fighter terminals that will allow them to ensure classified data communication. 

Petr Medek, Defense Ministry spokesman, stated that using these terminals in the avionics of the existing Gripen aircrafts will help increase the operational capabilities in the area of classified communication. The technology is also needed for the aircraft to be full-fledged participants in Joint Alliance operations.

Czech Republic will be acquiring 15 terminals, of which 14 will be incorporated into the existing 14 aircraft and 1 will be a spare. 

The Czech army currently has a total of 14 Gripen aircraft on lease. The terminals purchased, however, will be completely owned and operated by the Czech army. 

Read the full storyhere​.

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According to a new cooperation plan signed by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the two countries will jointly protect their airspace, reports Boston Herald.

The Czech Defence Ministry said that the protection that both the countries receive as NATO members is effective only for military threats. The cooperation plan, however, would cover non-military threats such as a terror attack committed with a civilian passenger jet, as well.

The pact has been approved by the Slovak government but still requires parliamentary and presidential approvals before coming in to effect.

Czech Republic uses Gripen C/D fighter jets for which Slovakia is in negotiation with Sweden to acquire. The Slovakian military uses Russian MiG-29 jets which were acquired in 2004.

Read the full story here.

Photo: Jorgen Nilsson

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The Governments of Slovakia and Czech Republic have signed an agreement that will lead to closer cooperation between the two countries for the protection of their combined airspace, reports Enrsi.rtvs.sk.

Both the countries have been conducting mutual air surveillance missions for more than two years now. The treaty, approved by the Slovak government, deepens this existing partnership and takes it to the next level.

The two countries protect their airspaces under NATO's integrated system of anti-aircraft and missile defence (NATINAMDS). This bilateral cooperation means they will share the cost of maintenance and pilot training. If there is a temporary loss of capacity to respond to threats, the neighbouring country will step up and enter the incapacitated country's airspace.

Read the full storym here.

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One of the biggest projects today for the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration,​ FMV, is the MS20 upgrade of the Czech Gripen fighters.

MS20 upgrade includes integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and Boeing GBU-39 Small-Diameter Bomb, ISTAR missions plus, improved radar modes and a new laser designation pod (LDP).

The Czech Republic's first Gripen lease contract for 10 years was signed in the year 2004. In 2014, a new agreement was signed for a further 12 years. So the Czech Republic will continue to operate 14 Gripen C/D aircraft until at least 2027. It was this agreement that included several hardware modifications and system functionality upgrades for the Czech fighters.

Officials from FMV and its Czech counterpart meet four times a year, alternately in Prague and Stockholm, to discuss the upgradation process. According to an FMV report, some of the MS20 features for the Czech Gripen fighters will be different as compared to that of the Swedish Air Force fighters.

“There is a delicate interaction task, especially because they obtain a lot of hardware themselves to be reconciled with our packaging and delivery of Version 20 Czech Republic,” says Mikael Löfgren, project manager for the Gripen Czech Republic.

The upgrades of the Czech fighters are due in 2018.

Read the full story here.

​To fly in the Icelandic weather conditions, there are some preparations that have to be done. Here, Capt. Martin Špaček, a Czech Air Force Gripen pilot, describes how the daily life as pilot during the air policing mission in Iceland could look like.

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The video shows how Czech Gripen fighters perform their Quick Reaction Alert duties within the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System.

For many years now, NATO has been deploying Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) assets, provided by its member nations, for intercepts in places like Iceland and Baltic States which don’t have their own air forces.

During the recent participation in the Icelandic Air Policing, Czech Gripen fighters were slated to take up Quick Reaction Alert duties for initial certification process.  The Czech Air Force has been part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS) since 1999. This year was the first time when the Czech Air Force executed a twofold Quick Reaction Alert (Intercept) mission – one at home and one in Iceland.​

​During the Icelandic air policing mission, the Czech Air Force got an opportunity to train together with NATO Naval Forces in the waters outside Iceland.  

Three Gripen fighters joined in an exercise, in which Languedoc, a French frigate, Thetis, a Danish patrolling frigate, and Thor, the Icelandic coast guard's modern vessel, participated along with several helicopters. The exercise took place some 80 km southwest of the Icelandic coast and the main task of the Czech pilots was to simulate an attack on the Languedoc frigate, a state-of-the-art vessel the French Navy acquired this spring. 

The vessel is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles, and the Czech JAS-39 Gripen aircraft had to check the readiness of the ship’s crew. For the Czech pilots, the exercise was an opportunity to train for flying on low altitudes above the sea. 

"For Gripen, the lowest flight limit is 30 meters above the sea. However, since we do not fly at low altitude so often, we chose a safer variant of the minimal flight altitude of 100 meters," one of the participating pilots, Tomáš Merta, said. 

The Czech Air Force Iceland air policing mission ended last week and the pilots had logged a total of 166 flight hours.

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A month long Icelandic air policing mission by the four Czech Gripen fighters has come to an end. The Czech fighters will next be deployed for the Baltic Air Policing, according to the Czech General Staff General Josef Becvar.

Towards the end of the mission, General Josef Becvar and other officials visited the Keflavik Air Base in Iceland to meet the participating personnel.

"You have proven that the Czech Republic is certainly capable of ensuring the readiness of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System both at home and in Iceland," General Becvar said addressing the soldiers.

As a part of this mission, Czech Gripen pilots performed their QRA duties in Iceland - they had to take off within 15 minutes of receiving an order. This was the first time that the Czech Gripen fighters were equipped with the AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile).

Read the full story here.

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Czech Air Force Gripen pilots logged over 100 flight hours during the first 26 days of their Icelandic mission, reports Afbcaslav.cz.

The Czech contingent monitored airborne objects, practised low-flight manoeuvres over the sea, and carried out joint exercises with the allied naval forces.

In all, 75 men and women and five Gripen fighters were sent for this mission. For most personnel, it was their first deployment in Iceland and hence their first experience of the challenging weather. 

"For such missions you have to don neoprene protective clothing for emergency situations over sea,” said Major Tomas Merta, one of the pilots. "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, which provided the crew invaluable flying experience.”

Read the full story here.

Image Courtesy: Czech Air Force

​Last month, Czech Gripen fighters participated at AirPower, one of the largest airshows in Europe. Here is a video of Gripen’s solo display at the airshow.

This year, AirPower attracted 300,000 visitors. About 240 aircraft from 20 countries participated. The airshow took place on September 2 and 3.

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