Czech Gripens to patrol over Iceland

Five Gripen multi-role fighter aircraft of the Czech Air Force are to perform air surveillance coverage over Iceland under a NATO arrangement, as the country does not have its own defence forces. The Czech Air Force will provide Iceland with air surveillance between July 20 and August 29, 2015.

Initial certification flights are planned on July 27 and 28 under the control of NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre. On 29 July, the first Gripen are slated to take up Rapid Reaction Alert duties within NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System.

The Czech government endorsed the deployment of four JAS-39 Gripen aircraft (the fifth jet deploys as a reserve) and 70 service personnel in response to a short-notice request by NATO. It is part of the Czech Republic’s contribution to Allied collective defence.

This is the fourth deployment of Czech Air Force Gripens to guard Alliance members airspace. In 2009 and 2012, Czech Gripens provided Air Policing over the Baltic States, and in 2014 they operated over Iceland for the first time. The experience gained by the Czech Armed Forces and its staff during these deployments and other international exercises have enabled them to respond flexibly to the request raised by NATO.