Czech Gripen Pilots Practice In-flight Refueling at Baltics

An in-flight refueling (IFR) exercise, also known as air-to-air-refueling (AAR) exercise, was conducted by the Czech Gripen pilots during the Baltic Air Policing 2019 in early October, reports mise.army.cz.

The exercise used a system called probe-and-drogue where fuel is transferred from the tanker’s extended hose to the receiving aircraft’s probe during flight. The Gripen pilot has to insert the probe into the drogue behind the tanker. An Airbus A310 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) was used for the training. The tanker took off from the Cologne - Bonn Air Base, flew to its area of operations over the Baltic Sea to refuel Gripens, and then returned home.

It was 2005 when Gripen undertook its first air-to-air refueling campaign with a NATO standard compatible tanker (a South African Air Force Boeing 707). Gripen pilots are to engage in air-to-air refueling exercises at six-month intervals. The objective of this exercise is to make the pilots more competent and be able to sustain their air missions for a longer period of time. At the moment, all Gripen pilots hold an air-to-air refueling certificate.

“Maintaining in-flight refueling capability is very important from an operational point of view as it allows longer range and endurance in the air, as well as flexibility to respond to more situations," says task force commander, Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Pavlík.

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Photo: Czech Air Force