Gripen fighters of the Czech Air Force have reached 30,000 flight hours
On April 18, 2005, the first six JAS-39C Gripen single-seat supersonic combat airplanes bearing the roundels of the Czech Republic landed at the Čáslav Air Base. On July 1, 2005, the Gripen fighters became a part of the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS, later NATINAMDS – NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System), succeeding their MiG-21 MFN predecessors. By the end of August, all the airplanes – 12 single-seaters and a pair of two-seaters – had been delivered.
During the 15 years of operating Gripen, 35 pilots and more than 110 members of ground support personnel have been retrained in Sweden. Of these numbers, roughly 20 pilots and 70 technicians can be deployed in operations. The latest Gripen retraining course for four new pilots and five technicians took place in the first half of 2020. Although it may seem that the job of a ground-support technician is reserved for men, the ground support personnel of the 211th Tactical Squadron also includes women who perform their tasks as well as their male co-workers.
As mentioned above, the airplanes have been a part of the NATINAMDS system on a 24/7 basis since 2005. It is symbolical that the fighters of the 211th Tactical Squadron based in Čáslav surpassed the magical limit of 30,000 flight hours on the Remembrance Day, November 11, 2020.
Lieutenant Colonel Michal Daněk has been connected with the Gripen fighters since the very beginning of their operation in the Czech Republic. “It was a major qualitative and technological step for the Czech Air Force, which brought us to the level of our partners in the Alliance. Clocking 30 000 flight hours with 14 airplanes in 15 years is an important milestone, unprecedented among Gripen users. This fact in itself is proof positive of the airplane’s reliability and also of the high level of erudition of its pilots and ground support personnel, without which we would definitely have not achieved this result”, says Lieutenant Colonel Michal Daněk, Commanding Officer of the 211th Tactical Squadron and one of the most experienced pilots.
During the fifteen years of coexistence with the sophisticated military aviation technology, the ground support personnel of the 211th Tactical Squadron have made huge and unprecedented progress. Between 2004 and 2005, the JAS-39 C/D airplanes brought brand new standards and mental attitudes to maintenance and operation of military aircraft to the Czech Air Force.
On the average, the Czech Gripen fleet clocks 2,000 flight hours every year, and manages to maintain the tempo of flight operations continuously. For such a small unit with only 14 airplanes, the above parameter is an indicator of very high quality, which bears comparison even on a global scale.