Czechs complete Icelandic air surveillance mission
A month-long NATO air policing mission in the skies over Iceland by four Czech Gripen fighter planes has been successfully accomplished.
Since the beginning of October, crews of four Gripen fighter planes have been conducting the “Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs” NATO mission. Last week, nearing the end of the deployment which concludes on 1st November, Chief of the Czech General Staff General Josef Becvar, and other officials, visited Keflavik Air Base in Iceland to meet with the soldiers and personnel participating in the mission.
"Each of these missions brings with it considerable experience for both air crew and ground personnel. This is our third deployment to Iceland by soldiers already familiar with the environment, and they have more than demonstrated their resolve in fulfilling each task," said General Becvar.
"You have proven that the Czech Republic is certainly capable of ensuring the readiness of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System both at home and in Iceland," General Becvar said addressing the soldiers. He then corroborated that Czech fighter planes may be deployed to protect the Baltic countries in 2019.
This was the first time that the Gripen fighters were equipped with the AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile) which greatly increases their intercepting capabilities.
"During almost all of the 150 flight hours, the crews had been monitoring airborne objects, practising low-flight manoeuvres over the sea, and carrying out joint exercises with the allied naval forces," explained Lieutenant Colonel Jaroslav Tomana, Commander of the air policing mission.
By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek
November 1, 2016