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The Czech Air Force Gripen fighters now have air-to-ground capabilities, reports Ceskatelevize.cz.

With the new capabilities, the Czech Gripen will be able to do more than air defence missions. They will be able to perform air-to-ground strikes and engage with ground troops as well. The new weapons will not only increase the capabilities of the Czech Air Force but also prepare Gripen fighters for advanced NATO missions.

As a part of this upgrade, Czech fighters have been integrated with laser bombs and related software updates. According to the Ceskatelevize report, laser beams are very accurate and attacks can be made between five and twenty miles of height. 

"We will have to learn how to use the full range of ammunition that will be provided for Gripen," said Czech Tactical Air Force Commander Jan Ďucha.

Read the full post here.

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Czech display pilot Captain Ivo Kardoše from the 211 Squadron of the 21st Tactical Air Force Base Čáslav, has won awards for his performances at airshows like Yeovilton and Fairford.

At the Yeovilton Air Day 2017, which was held on 8 July, about 40,000 visitors got the opportunity to watch the Czech pilot in the air. After a week, Kardoše performed at the RIAT 2017, one of the world's largest airshows. 

The weather was not very good for a flying display, so Kardoše had to make some last minute changes. "I had to choose a variant of the demonstration with lower flight levels and adapt it to the current meteorological situation," he says. Despite the challenges, the Czech test pilot won the award for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant.

Read the full storyhere.

Image Courtesy: Afbcaslav.cz​

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Captain Ivo Kardoš from the 211th Tactical Squadron at Čáslav Air base won the award for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant at RIAT 2017. The performance was judged to be a "consistently well flown and accurate fast jet demonstration" during the airshow.

"It was a wonderful, amazing airshow," says Kardoš. "It was the best one I've ever been to. Of course, it's a great honour to win the prize and to represent Gripen and Saab." 

RIAT is one of the largest military airshows in the world. Held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestshoire every year, the airshow gets a participation of fast jets, giant transporters, historic aircraft etc. from around the world.

RIAT 2017 was held between 14 and 17 July.

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It is 10:25 in the morning at Čáslav air base and the sunrays are only just beginning to stream through the morning fog. There is no wind, all one can hear is the whistling sound of two Gripen fighters leaving their hangar. Soon, the whistle turns into a roar as the fighters ascend towards the sky. This is how a typical morning at the air base looks like.

The Czech Republic has been using Gripen system for over ten years to protect its airspace. The country also uses the fighters for NATO missions in countries like Iceland.

"The fighters are on constant standby to identify, escort, and if necessary, fight invasion of Czech airspace. Additionally, they also provide support to civil aviation, including escorting and providing guided landing of civilian aircraft, in case of technical failure or bad weather conditions,” says Jan Ducha, Ground Personnel commanding officer of the Czech Air Force.

Recounting his experience at this year's NATO Tiger Meet exercise in Saragosa, Spain, Jan says that Gripen is very easy to use and requires less staff as compared to other similar aircraft. Other countries participating with other aircraft systems brought up to 25 people per aircraft. To fly a Gripen, one needs only one pilot, one engineer and a mechanic (per aircraft), Jan adds. 

"What use is an aircraft of, if it is in a hangar, waiting for spare parts or if you need so much staff to attend to it ...

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Ahead of the recent Paris Air Show, members of the Gripen User Group met up in Paris on 20 June to add Brazil as the newest member of the group.

The Gripen User Group is made up of representatives of countries that operate the Gripen fighter. Before Brazil, the last induction in the group was that of Thailand in 2010. The Gripen Users Group holds a bi-annual conference to share the participants’ experiences of flying the fighter. The Group shares information, and the discussions revolve around Gripen’s operational, maintenance, logistics, engineering and safety matters.

The User Group also conducts ‘Lion Effort’ - a tactical exercise aimed to improve interoperability between the Gripen operating countries. Hungary will host Lion Effort in 2018. 

Read the full story here​.

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Czech Air Force's 'Wildcat' was ranked as the second best tiger painted aircraft at the NATO Tiger Meet 2017, reports Afbcaslav.cz​.

The Meet was held between 5 and 16 June. Several dozens of training missions were carried out by Czech pilots in the framework of the prestigious NATO tiger squadrons exercise.

Image Courtesy: Afbcaslav.cz

​During the Seinäjoki International Airshow, a Czech Gripen performed a 360 degree turn over on the runway before its flight. Watch it in action.


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Four Czech Gripen fighters and 30 Czech personnel are currently participating in the NATO Tiger Meet 2017 in Landivisiau, France, hosted by Flottille 11F squadron of the French Marine Nationale. As per the custom, one of the participating Gripen had a colourful tiger scheme on its tail.

The training missions in the Meet included simulated air combat exercises like search and destroy targets and rescue operations, and aerial refueling.

"The best part of the exercise is, of course, its extent and duration. You can find out the effectiveness of your own aerial combat tactics and complex mission planning," says the commander of the participating Czech squadron Lt. Col. Jaroslav Tomaňa.

Two days of the NATO Tiger Meet, 8th and 14 June, were Spotter's Days. On these two days, visitors could see and photograph all the participating fighter jets at five different spotting locations. 

NATO Tiger Meet 2017 will end tomorrow.

Read more here​.

Image Courtesy: Afbcaslav.cz​

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Caslav Open Day attracted more than 45,000 visitors this year. One of the main highlights of the event was Gripen's aerial display by new Czech display pilot Captain Ivo Kardoše.

Captain Kardoše has flown more than 500 flight hours in the Gripen aircraft. On being asked about a display pilot’s training process, he says that he has learnt everything from his predecessors. "It is up to me to continue in their footsteps and maintain the tradition of Czech Gripen's brilliant performances at airshows," he says.

Captain Kardoše also talked about what a normal day in the life of a pilot looks like. "The day starts with the distribution of flight assignments, followed by a briefing on weather, training space etc. Pilots then get ready for their training missions which may involve other aircraft from foreign countries as well. Due to this, the preparation can take several hours. After the flight, the evaluation process begins where feedback is given to everyone involved. Besides these regular training missions, we also train on simulators, train younger pilots and prepare for international exercises," he adds.

Captain Ivo Kardoše has flown various aircraft but his favourite has been Gripen. "My dream finally came true with Gripen," he says. He will be performing Gripen aerial displays at various airshows around the world for the next three years. This year alone, he has 15 performances scheduled.

Read the full story here.

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Czech Air Force's biennial event 'Open Day' will be held at the Čáslav airport this month and Gripen's aerial display will be the main attraction at the show.

Besides Gripen, participants include Patrouille Suisse, Belgian F-16 Demo and Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team.

Open Day will be held on 20 May.

Read the full story here.

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