Five Czech JAS-39 Gripen jets lined up at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, on November 2, 2016 to redeploy to their home base in the Czech Republic after successfully providing peacetime interception capabilities for the NATO Ally in the High North. Photo: Maxim Marek Svancara, Czech Air Force
7 NOV 2016
CASLAV, Czech Republic – In the afternoon of November 7, the last Czech Air Force soldiers returned to Caslav Air Base from their deployment to Iceland conducting the NATO mission of providing interception capabilities in Iceland. For more than a month five JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets operated under the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System in the High North. The main detachment and the fighter jets had safely returned last week, marking the end of the third deployment of the Czech Air Force to Iceland.
En route back home to Caslav Air Base, the Gripen fighters conducted air-to-air refuelling with a United States Air Force KC-135 from 100th Air Refuelling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom. This allowed the Gripen pilots and the refuellers to gather more valuable operational experience and further hone their interoperability skills.
“This third deployment of the Czech Air Force to Iceland has been another demonstration of Allied solidarity and cohesion,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jaroslav Tomana, the Detachment Commander during the mission in Iceland; his team conducted 120 sorties and logged 166 flying hours. “The Czech Gripen pilots further developed their airmanship in the High North; ground crews and support staff hugely benefited from their experiences made cooperating with the Icelandic Coast Guard.”
The peacetime preparedness mission usually involves a three to four week deployment of fighter aircraft from Allied nations three times a year. The pilots familiarise with the airspace and are certified by Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem to execute the NATO mission in Icelandic airspace. This ensures the Alliance can conduct full-scale peacetime air policing activities at the shortest possible notice if required by real world events. The deployments are a visible expression of NATO’s commitment to the country’s security and an expression of shared responsibilities and values.
L. J. De Rothschild