In the first month of airspace surveillance over the Baltics, the Czech Gripens have already completed five sharp take-offs, each time identifying non-communicating aircrafts, reports Mise.army.cz.
“Every sharp take-off confirms our interest in the security of Estonia and the Baltic States. Our pilots are fulfilling NATO’s fundamental principle of collective defense,” said Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic Lubomír Metnar.
The first Alfa Scramble, in which the Czech Gripens intercepted a Russian An-30 plane, took place after just a few days of Czech Air Force taking over Baltic Air Policing duties. The following weeks, the Gripen fighters intercepted planes that were either not receiving radio signals, or did not have valid flight plans, or failed to establish contact with air traffic controllers.
"With our efforts, we confirm to our allies that we are fully trained and prepared to take part in the joint fulfillment of allied tasks," said Czech Chief of Staff Ales Opata.
The Czech contingent of five Gripens and 70 soldiers are based at the Estonian Amari air force base and are commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Pavlik, who has also flown around 1000 hours with the Gripen fighter. The current rotation of the Baltics Air Policing mission will continue for another three months until December 31st, 2019.
This is the third Baltic mission for the Czech Gripens which have previously participated in the years 2009 and 2012.
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