Czech fleet of Gripen fighters flies over 2,000 hours a year
The Army of the Czech Republic operates fourteen supersonic machines JAS-39 Gripen in total – twelve single-seat JAS-39 C and two-seat JAS-39 D. According to the available statistics, over 2,100 flight hours have been gained only this year. During the whole period of operation in the Czech Army, the Gripen fighter is characterized by high reliability, but also perfect price/performance ratio.
Some experts still argue about the fact whether the Gripen fighter was a good choice for the Czech Armed Forces. However, the machines are suitable in our conditions and the fact that the Gripen fighters are reliable and less service-intensive speaks again in favour of this Swedish multipurpose combat aircraft. Just to give you an idea, about 60 people are needed to secure 12 Gripen fighters while in case of the same number of aircrafts of the 3rd generation Panavia Tornado the number is around 200 people. Maintenance has not been performed according to a predetermined number of hours flown, but based on the actual condition of the machine. The state is being constantly monitored and any deviation from the standard is alerted by a complex on-board control device. Therefore, one flight hour requires 10 hours of maintenance on average.
The Gripen fighter is not only a reliable machine, but its operation is also economically advantageous. It is said that an hour of the Gripen fighter costs 4,500 dollars. In contrast, the American multipurpose jet fighters of the 4th generation General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon cost 7,000 dollars, 16,500 dollars in case of the French multipurpose jet fighters Dassault Rafale and 18,000 dollars for the Eurofighter.
There are sometimes opinions in the Internet discussions that, when their lease expires, the fleet of American machines of the fifth generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II should be purchased. Just to give you an idea, the cost of the flight hour of this machine is around 40,000 dollars. Each of the above-mentioned machines needs indeed a considerable ground background, i.e. many times larger number of ground personnel.
The Army of the Czech Republic has currently 25 pilots who are assigned to these aircrafts. This number has remained practically unchanged for the last ten years. The last display pilot of the Gripen fighter was Ivo Kardoš. The new display pilot will probably take the reins next year with regard to the Coronavirus pandemic and cancellation of the world air shows.