The Czech Army and protection of the Slovakia airspace

 03. 10. 2019      category: Army of the Czech Republic

Due to the recent accident of a Mig-29 aircraft of the Slovakia Army, all the machines of this type had to be bound on the ground. It is a usual procedure, but it means partially paralysis of the airspace protection. So, a Czech-Slovakian collective airspace protection agreement could become actual now.  This could mean for the Czech Army to keep standby duty not only in Baltic Republics but also in Slovakia.

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Picture: Slovakian MiG-29AS Fulcrum fighter | Wikimedia Commons

The North Atlantic Alliance ensures protection of its airspace with the help of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS). For example, the Czech Air Force earmarks for these purposes two Gripen fighter planes, which are then under command of the Alliance. The system is destined for the protection against military threats. The Czech-Slovakian agreement, signed two years ago, however enables intervention of pilots on the territory of the second state, including one with weapons, for example, at a moment when terrorists skyjacked a civil plane and were going to attack with it.

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Picture: The JAS-39 Gripen multi-purpose fight aircraft on service of the Czech Armed Forces | Wikimedia Commons

At a moment when a plane doesn’t respond, disturbs the airspace, etc., there are precise procedures, and fighters - let’s say non-professionally - take off toward the disturber. The Čáslav Base disposes of JAS-39 Gripen’s (L-159’s are not suitable for such situations, because they are slower than whatever cargo aircraft); and Slovakia has Mig-29’s on the Sliač Base. These planes, of cause, are not new, and they say that really there are only a couple of planes which are fully functional now. Due to a recent accident in Nitra, when one of the functional machines was destroyed, all the machines of this type had to be bound on the ground. With regard to the technical state and age, it could be caused by a technical defect. Although Slovakia has already ordered modern machines, F-16 Block 70/72, it has to wait for the delivery for several years (according to the plan, till the end of 2023). Nowadays, thus, the use of the Gripen fighters may be eligible.

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Picture: The JAS-39 Gripen multi-purpose fight aircraft on service of the Czech Armed Forces | army.cz

If we look at the state of the Air Force of the Army of the Czech Republic, we can find out that in total we dispose of 14 Gripen’s. Five machines now fulfil their obligations in a mission in Baltic Republics, a pair is reserved for the above-mentioned NATINAMDS, other planes “rotate” at regular intervals at the manufacturer to ensure their regular maintenance, as well as to provide modernization and upgrade of their software. So, we’re falling into a non-enviable situation, when there is very probable protection of the airspace of several countries by our country. Let’s hope that our army can manage all of these things, or - even better - that there will be no necessity in combat starts. Nevertheless, according to the actually published videos and style of communication, the army is more than confident that it can get it under control.

 Author: Karel Podskalský