Hungarian Gripen exercised in field conditions
The Adaptive Hussars 2023 exercise of the Hungarian Defence Forces brought pilots, technicians and equipment of the MH Szentgyörgyi Dezső 101st Aviation to the Lake Balaton area. Here, at Sármellék, a former air base used by Soviet Air Force for more than 33 years ago, acted as the new environment for five Hungarian Gripen fighters and its personell.
From the outset, Gripen was designed from the beginning to execute operations in harsh environments and from dispersed air bases. With high availability and ease of maintenance, operating away from its home air base suits Gripen very well.
In November 2023, a completely new task awaited the forces assigned to the relocation exercise. At the old air base, the conditions of operation had to be created for the Gripen aircraft and their crew and technical staff. Three days before the Gripen arrived, nearly 100 reserve soldiers from the Lowland Territorial Defence Regiments arrived on site as a first step to build the container city, in order to provide adequate accommodation not only for the Kecskemét force, but also for the soldiers guarding the camp and the airspace. Under the leadership of the commander of the Sármellék Provisional Detachment, the Mistral batteries of the 205th Tibor Dánielfy Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment of the HDF from their base in Győr protected the base personnel already during the construction.
Before the arrival of the Gripen, the Airbus A319 transporting the Brigade's personnel landed at Sármellék to make sure that everything was ready for Gripen. Hungarian Gripens have been deployed abroad on numerous occasions - most recently to Italy for the Tiger Meet - but always with a well-established system and infrastructure in place, this time everything had to be “created". Providing fuel, preparing the fighters under field conditions - that was the task. And because the tanker also comes from outside the base, the checks had to meet NATO standards. Everything was provided on a continuous basis, so that the runway of the airport, closed in winter, could once again relive the exciting moments of the old days - fighter jets landing at and departing from Sármellék.