Czech Gripens flying QRA to check on a civilian airliner
Czech Air Force Gripens conducted a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) a night in January due to a suspected explosive aboard an airliner overflying the territory of the Czech Republic, reports iDNES.cz. The suspicion ultimately proved to be a false alarm.
The QRA take off was confirmed to iDNES.cz by the army spokesperson Magdalena Dvořáková. Czech fighter pilots guard their national airspace 24/7 and sometimes situations like this happens. “If necessary, they take off to check an airplane which is not communicating, or to assist an airplane in distress, which was what happened tonight,” the spokesperson explained. According to information on the Twitter account of the Czech Air Traffic Control Center, the airliner in distress was a Ryanair B 737 flying from Milan to Warsaw.
“The International Air Force Tactical and Operational Control Command alerted our command in Stará Boleslav and the latter issued a direct order to Čáslav. The fighter airplanes took just two minutes to get to the airliner, and they escorted it all the way to Warsaw,” said Dvořáková, adding that the entire action, including the return leg, took fifty minutes.
Statistical data of the Czech Armed Forces indicates that situations like the one referred to above occur approximately ten times a year (it does not include the last year when the number of flights dropped because of the Covid-19 pandemic).
Another NATO Baltic Air Policing mission for the Czech Air Force
As the Baltic states, i.e. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, do not have their own supersonic air forces, other NATO allies take turns to protect their airspace. The Czechs have been doing it three times before in the Baltics and this time they will be deployed at the Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania and cooperate with the Spanish Air Force contingent. The Czech mission will include five Gripen fighters and 95 military personnel.
The mission will take place from April till July, it will be the seventh NATO Air Policing mission for the Czech Air Force as they also have been protected Iceland before, and occurs at a time of very tense relations with Russia.
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