All weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft are to be deployed in Europe
Prague, Aug 28 (ČTK) — The US wants its F-22 Raptor fighters, which its plans to deploy in Europe, to learn to cooperate with the supersonic fighters of the allies, not only with the most widespread Eurofighter Typhoons but also the Gripen fighters used by the Czechs, daily Lidové noviny (LN) writes today.
Apart from the Czech Air Force, Gripens are used by the Swedes and Hungarians. Slovakia may acquire Gripens next year, and they have been eyed by Croatia as well, LN writes.
It writes that General Frank Gorenc, Allied Air Commander and commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, arrived in Keflavik on Tuesday to see the Czech Gripens and their crew at the close of their mission, within which they protected the airspace of Iceland.
In Keflavik, Gorenc had a joint luncheon with Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnický (ANO) and deputy chief-of-staff Jiří Baloun, which was rather formal, according to official information, but Czech defense representatives will probably have more detailed talks with their U.S. counterparts in the foreseeable future, LN writes.
Gorenc told LN in Iceland that it is a good piece of news that the USA has managed to send its F-22s to a joint exercise with its NATO allies in Europe.
The US Air Force is interested in the F-22 becoming compatible with the aircraft of the European allies, primarily the Eurofighter Typhoons operated by Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain and Austria, the paper continues.
“Since the number of Gripens over Europe has been rising, it is not ruled out that the US, with its Raptor planes, will offer a joint training to us as well,” LN quotes a high strategist from the Czech Defence Ministry, who requested anonymity, as saying.
The nearest cooperation opportunity is in September when the Ample Strike military exercise will take place at the air base in Náměšť nad Oslavou, south Moravia. It is to involve 17 NATO members including the USA, which is to be represented by several combat helicopters AH-64 Apache, the paper writes.
Gorenc would not specify for LN how many F-22 fighters the USA would deploy in Europe and where they would be based. He said the plan is yet to be completed.
Most probably, the F-22s will go to the US air-base in Ramstein, Germany, first, and then start rotating across Europe, as the A-10 and F-15 aircraft have done so far, the paper writes.
The US Air Force has been reinforced in Europe as part of a package of security measures reacting to the recent steps of Russia, mainly its annexation of Crimea and other activities in eastern Ukraine, LN writes.
Prague is naturally interested in how the reinforced presence of the US may influence the Czechs. Speculations mention a planned construction of new NATO bases, which, if really built, would be located near NATO’s eastern border, the paper writes.
For the time being, the Czech Republic mainly offers its military training grounds for joint exercises, apart from enabling transit to U.S. military convoys.
In September, the Czech Republic will be crossed by a convoy of the Stryker armored vehicles going from Vilseck, Germany, to an exercise in Hungary, the paper writes.