LN: Czech, Slovaks to connect their fighter squadrons

Slovak Air Force MiG 29. Photo: Wikipedia
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Czech fighters could pursue unauthorized planes to Ukrainian border

Prague, April 3 (ČTK) – The Czech Republic and Slovakia will connect their fighter squadrons in a few months before Slovakia also acquires the Jas-39 Gripen fighters which the Czech military has decided to lease for another 12 years, the daily Lidové noviny (LN) writes today.

Both countries’ working groups are now finishing up details.

 “We want to maximally use the scope for the development of our cooperation under current conditions,” Daniel Koštoval, state secretary of the Czech Defense Ministry, told LN.

The Slovak air force has now eight Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters, six one-manned and two two-manned ones, LN writes.

The Czech government recently approved the extension of the contract on the lease of 14 Swedish Jas-39 Gripen supersonic fighters until 2027 with a two-year option for some 1.7 billion crowns annually. It is one-third lower fee than under the current contract that expires in 2015.

LN writes that experts have found two major areas of cooperation between the Czech and Slovak air forces.

The first one is the provision of cross-servicing at the air bases of the other country for which several members of the ground staff must be trained, Kostoval said.

This would enable, for instance, a Czech Gripen to land at the Sliač base, central Slovakia, where it will be repaired and prepared for another flight.

Moreover, both countries’ airspaces will be partially interconnected, which plays a significant role in their protection.

 “Czech Gripens or Slovak MiGs will be able to enter the other country’s airspace within cross-border operations,” Koštoval said.

Such situations may occur if Gripens accompany a plane that does not communicate with a ground controller. They will be allowed to pursue it as far as the Slovak-Ukrainian or Slovak-Hungarian borders.

Military strategists expect this plan to save finances and pilots look forward to covering longer routes, LN writes.

Both Czech and Slovak fighter squadrons should be more closely interconnected after 2016 when the service contract on MiG-29s expires. Slovakia will probably buy or lease up to eight fighters from the West, while Gripens are favorites, LN writes.

The FXM Swedish export firm has been negotiating with Bratislava about Gripens’ possible purchase or lease, it adds.

If the Czech Republic and Slovakia had the same type of supersonic fighters, a joint squadron would be formed with one main and one minor air base, LN writes.

The Czech and Slovak governments have planned meetings to debate a joint protection of the countries’ airspaces where a few agreements are to be signed.

In addition, a joint purchase of airport radars has long been considered, LN writes.

It says both countries also want to intensify cross-border cooperation in the case of natural disasters, such as floods, and cooperation between both military education systems.

Slovak soldiers could study some fields or subjects at the University of Defense in Brno, LN writes.

 

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