Czech Gripens Participate in Aerial Refuelling Training
On May 26th, the Czech Air Force pilots carried out a crucial air-to-air refuelling (AAR) training with a record total of five Gripen aircraft. The five fighters from the 211th Tactical Squadron, Čáslav Air Base, completed the training over the German airspace with the help of an American tanker KC-135R.
The training took place near Leipzig, with the KC-135R from the British RAF base in Mildenhall orbiting between Chemnitz and Leipzig for nearly an hour at a flight level of 19000 feet. All the aircraft returned to their home bases after the successful completion of the training exercise. This year’s training comes at the heel of last year’s AAR Conversion Training held in November at the F17 "Blekinge" wing air base in Ronneby, Sweden. The 2020 training showcased four Gripen aircraft while the Swedish tanker TP-84T served as the refuelling platform.
Aerial refuelling is a process of transferring fuel from a military tanker aircraft to another military aircraft. The primary advantage of aerial refuelling is the added combat radius of the aircraft and the prolonged ability to remain airborne. Gripen’s aerial refuelling method uses the probe-and-drogue system. This involves the mid-air interlocking of a retractable probe with a funnel-like mouth of a long hose between Gripen and the fuel supplying aircraft.
With aerial refuelling, Gripen can remain in the air for longer periods of time. This effectively equips the fighter to perform long range missions and cover a wider airspace without the need to come down for refuelling. Longer airtime equals maximum operational effect. The air-to-air refuelling capability also ensures that one fighter alone can do the job, eliminating the requirement of a second jet to replace the first one as it goes down to refuel.
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