Eight Czechs help guard air space. From the Benelux to the Baltics

Autor: Oldrich Holecek

Ten minutes after the Alfa Scramble signal is declared, two alert JAS-39 Gripen aircraft take off from the Caslav airbase runway. The duty in favour of the NATO Integrated Air Defence System – NATINADS.

Their target is a civilian Ae 270 transport plane which entered the air space of the Czech Republic without contacting air traffic control authorities.

The readiness duty personnel of the air traffic Control and Reporting Centre at Stara Boleslav guides the Gripen couple along their flight route and coordinates intervention of Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) pilots from 211th Tactical Flight from Caslav. Their first task is visual identification of the intercepted aircraft. Within minutes they have a direct contact with Ae 270 and they manage to establish a radio contact with its pilot on international emergency radio frequency. The contacted plane then leaves Czech air space and the Gripen couple returns to their home base.

Czech gripens are under the direct command of the multinational Combined Air Operations Centre located close to the northwest German town of Uedem. The CAOC is the NATO authority responsible for monitoring and defending the air space over nine European countries, from the Benelux to the Baltics. The collective defence of this part of European sky is safeguarded with couples of QRA supersonic aircraft at eight Alliance air bases.

The CAOC Uedem is a workplace for eight professionals of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. Three Czechs rotate in permanent readiness duties; others are planners at the Search and Rescue Service, and at ground air defence, specialists for security of communication and information systems, and for the area of training and planning of exercises. The highest Czech post is held by Colonel Petr Mikulenka who serves as Deputy Director of the Operations. His responsibilities, among others, include also the decision over activation of the NATINADS QRA fighters within the Uedem´s CAOC.

The Czech “Eight” is a respected group of the multinational institution which is run by military representatives of 17 NATO countries. „The fact that we contribute to real life activities in the field we were assigned to within organisational structure, the Czech Republic clearly declares it is a full-fledged member of the North Atlantic Alliance and support the run of CAOC. At present, we belong to those Alliance countries which fully occupy the assigned posts,“ Colonel Mikulenka says. He personally experiences his „double“ role in the NATINADS system – earlier an alert pilot of Gripen, now, as one of commanding officers, decides over the take off of aircraft.

Read also info about CAOC Uedem, Germany, pages of the 26th Brigade at Stara Boleslav and Caslav Air Base, Czech Republic:

Updated: October 3, 2011