Czech Air Force

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Air Force of The Czech Republic
Znak Vzdušných sil AČR.jpg
Founded 1 January 1993
Country  Czech Republic
Size 60 aircraft
47 helicopters
Part of Armed Forces of the Czech Republic
Headquarters Prague
Motto Air is our sea
Commanders
Air Force Commander Brigadier General Libor Štefánik[1]
Insignia
Roundel Czech roundel.svg
Low-visibility roundel Czech Low Visiablity Roundel.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Aero L-39, Aero L-159
Fighter JAS 39 Gripen
Helicopter Mi-8/Mi-17, Mi-35, W-3A
Trainer Aero L-39, Aero L-159
Transport CASA C-295M, Bombardier Challenger CL-601, Airbus A319, Let L-410, Yak-40

The Czech Air Force (CZAF; Czech: Vzdušné síly Armády České republiky) is the air force branch of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. The Air Force, with the Land Forces, comprises the Joint Forces, the main combat power of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. It succeeded the Czechoslovak Air Force together with the Slovak Air Force in 1993.[2]

The Air Force is responsible for securing the integrity of the Czech Republic's airspace through the NATO Integrated Air Defense System – NATINADS, close air support to the Land Forces and for transportation tasks including government and state priority flights.[3] In peacetime the Air Force is contributing to task originating in the Czech laws and interministerial agreements, for example to the air ambulance service or the SAR role.[4]

History[edit]

Czech Republic (1993–present)[edit]

Czech Air Force PZL W-3A

The separation saw a large reduction in types, numbers and bases. 1994 saw the creation of the 3rd Corps of Tactical Aviation. The newest fighter in the Czechoslovak Air Force arsenal was the MiG-29 (Izdelie 9.12). As there was only one general maintenance kit, which was given to newly created Slovak Republic, and all the material was split 1:1 with Slovakia, maintenance costs for the Czech Fulcrums would be too high. Along with the unreasonably high costs, speculative costs for spare parts imported from Russia, which were realised through third-party companies (Mil Mi-24 rotor blades acquisitions were over-priced by 400%), led to exchange of 10 MiG-29s with Poland for PZL W-3A Sokół rescue helicopters with avionics and ground support. Therefore 10 air superiority fighters were exchanged for 11 light helicopters, an exchange many[who?] considered to be very uneven. The burden of readiness squadron passed to the MiG-23s. Those participated in air exercises with western air forces, where MiG-23MLs were capable of outperforming Mirage III, F1C, and 2000 and F-4F in vertical manoeuvering and acceleration and Mirage III, F1C and Phantom even in horizontal manoeuvering, while being outperformed by F-16A in all aspects and by Mirage 2000 in horizontal manoeuvering.

Aero Vodochody L.159A Advanced Light Combat Aircraft of the Czech Air Force

As a moment of a birthday of a new-era Air Force of the Czech Army there may be marked 1 July 1997 when the 3rd Corps of Tactical Aviation and the 4th Air Defence Corps were united. The members of both units have taken part in Alliance actions after the Czech Republic entered NATO on 12 March 1999.[4] The Air Force began to revise and update its doctrines and aircraft. Therefore, acquisition of a new, western fighter was considered. MiG-23MFs were retired in 1994, MLs in 1998 and MiG-21s were reestablished as an interim type for what was supposed to be a transition period before buying a new fighter – which was selected to be Swedish JAS 39 Gripen multi-role fighter aircraft. Because of the devastating floods that hit the country during 2002 the deal was put off.[citation needed]

Saab Gripen of the Czech Air Force

A new international tender was issued for an interim solution. Gripen again won this tender among six different bidders as the Czech Republic accepted a government to government 10-year lease from Sweden that did not involve BAE Systems. Media allegations of BAE Systems kickbacks to decision makers during the original sales effort have so far led nowhere in the judicial system.[citation needed] In December 2008, the Czech Air Force wanted to train helicopter pilots for desert conditions for the upcoming mission in Afghanistan. Israel was the only country that was ready to help out, as it saw this as an opportunity to thank the Czech Republic for training Israeli pilots and supporting Israel when it first became a state.[5][6]

The independence of the Czech Air Force was terminated on 1 December 2003 when the force became a part of newly established Joint Forces of the Czech Army with the command post located at Olomouc. Within the new structure the Air Force Commander in Chief was in a position of one of Joint Forces Chief Commander Deputy. Since 1 July 2013, the Czech Air Force is independent again, with headquarters located in Prague and with new Commander in Chief Brigadier General Libor Štefánik.[4]

Mil Mi-171 Sh of the Czech Air Force

Future[edit]

In 2015, the lease of the JAS 39 Gripens from Sweden will expire. It is foreseen that the aircraft will then be either returned to Sweden or purchased. The Czech government expects a tender to be organised to provide a force of 18 supersonic fighters after 2015. The JAS-39 Gripen is generally accepted as the most effective option owing to the existing infrastructure, the availability of trained personnel and previous good operational experience. However, the background of the existing contract – specifically the broadly discussed issue of alleged corruption – prevents politicians from settling for this quick solution, favouring instead a general tender with more bidders offering such types as the F-16, F-18, F-15SE or F-35A.[7][8][9]

The creation of a non-supersonic air force has also been discussed as an option, owing to the perceived high costs and limited usefulness of keeping supersonic assets in a country surrounded by allied countries (all are European Union members and also NATO members, except Austria). In this scenario the subsonic L-159 would become the backbone of the air force. The latest 2011 White Book clearly states that the supersonic fleet is to be continued for the protection of the Czech Republic and for co-operation within the NATO Integrated Air Defence System.[10] On the other hand, a number of close support helicopters Mi-24/35 will be decommissioned (the Mi-35 will even be sold before the end of its operational life). Twelve single-seat and two twin-seat aircraft are viewed as sufficient for patrolling the Czech Republic, while 18 can support the sentry role in other NATO countries. A preliminary RFI requested 18 aircraft [1]. The White Book specifies the 12+2 solution, requiring strategic requirements for the supersonic air force to be specified by November 2011. Another option being discussed in the Parliament is the formation of a joint force of Czech, Slovak or even Hungarian units responsible for the air protection of these countries. Although it seems to be a financially effective solution (argued mainly by the Social Democrats),[7] its practical realisation would be complicated: Hungary has its own JAS-39s, while Slovakia has recently upgraded its MiG-29 fleet.

Insignia[edit]

The first Czechoslovak military aircraft bore, for a short time between September and November 1918, three-colour roundel, from the middle: red, blue and white. From 27 November 1918 it was replaced with slanted parallel lines in these colours. From 1920 they were replaced with an inverted roundel, from the middle: white, blue and red. From 21 December 1921 national insignia on aircraft became rectangular national flags. Finally, in December 1926 a current roundel of three parts in white, red and blue, was adapted.[11] It remained the insignia of the Czech Air Force until today, although in recent years, a low-visibility variant, all in grey, was adapted in some applications.

Structure[edit]

Flight Training Centre (CLV) Pardubice, operating 1 EV-97, 8 Z-142C-AF, 7 L-39C, 6 Mi-2, 1 L-410 UVP-S, 1 L-410 UVP-T and 4 Mi-17,[13] is not a part of the Air Force. Primary flight training was outsourced as of 1 April 2004. CLV is a branch of LOM PRAHA s.p., state owned company.[14]

Structure of the Czech Air Force

Aircraft inventory[edit]

Aircraft Photo Origin Type   Variants   In service[4] Notes
Fighter aircraft
Saab JAS 39 Gripen Saab JAS 39 Gripen Czech Air Force.jpg  Sweden Multirole fighter
Trainer
JAS-39C
JAS-39D
12
2
Leased from Swedish Air Force until 2027.[15][16][17]
Attack aircraft
Aero L-159 Alca L-159 ALCA Czech Air Force.jpg  Czech Republic Light attack
Trainer
L-159A
L-159T1
19
6
Originally ordered 72 units, but 36 units are stored in Aero Vodochody Aerospace.[18] Two L-159A crashed.
Trainer aircraft
Aero L-39 Albatros L-39 2433 based at Náměště nad Oslavou.jpg  Czechoslovakia Trainer L-39ZA 4
Transport aircraft
EADS CASA C-295M C-295M Vzdušných síl AČR.jpg  Spain Transport aircraft C-295M 4
Let L-410 Turbolet Czech Air Force Let L-410FG Turbolet.jpg  Czech Republic Light transport L-410UVP-E
L-410UVP-T
L-410FG
4
2
2
Airbus A319 Czech Air Force Airbus A319CJ Osokin.jpg  Germany VIP transport A319CJ 2
Bombardier Challenger 600 Czech Air Force Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 601-3A Lebeda.jpg  Canada VIP transport CL-601 1
Yakovlev Yak-40 Czech air force yak 40 arp.jpg  USSR VIP transport Yak-40
Yak-40K
1
1
Yak-40 will be retired in 2015.
Helicopters
Mil Mi-35 7360 a Mi-35 "HIND" of the Czech Air Forces 221 lbvr. (3936809767).jpg  Russia Attack helicopter Mi-35 12[19] Mi-35 will be retired in 2018.[20]
Mi-8/Mi-17 Czech Air Force Mil Mi-17 Lofting-1.jpg  Russia Transport helicopter Mi-8S
Mi-8P
Mi-17
Mi-171Sh
3
1
5
16
PZL W-3 Sokół Czech Air Force PZL W-3A Sokol Helicopter.jpg  Poland Utility helicopter W-3A 10 Only five W-3As is airworthy.

Types recently retired from Czech service include:

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.army.cz/scripts/detail.php?id=81787
  2. ^ "The White Paper on Defence 2011"
  3. ^ http://www.army.cz/scripts/detail.php?id=6821 Air Force role and organization
  4. ^ a b c d e Čadil, Jan (7 August 2013). "The Czech Air Force". Czech Air Force Yearbook 2013: 6. 
  5. ^ http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/index_view.php?id=350692
  6. ^ "Czech Helicopters over the Negev Desert" (in Czech). Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  7. ^ a b http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/o_ministerstvu/archivy/z_medii/budeme_mit_vlastni_vojenska_letadla$2548.html?action=setMonth&year=2014&month=9
  8. ^ http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/zpravy/zpravy/613856
  9. ^ http://www.lidovky.cz/armada-zvazuje-najem-ci-nakup-az-osmnacti-stihacek-fsl-/ln_domov.asp?c=A110324_080238_ln_domov_mc
  10. ^ http://www.army.cz/ministr-a-ministerstvo/odkazy/odkazy-46088
  11. ^ Hans-Joachim Mau: Tschechoslowakische Flugzeuge, Berlin, 1987, ISBN 3-344-00121-3
  12. ^ http://www.acr.army.cz/informacni-servis/zpravodajstvi/dvaadvacitka-je-od-1--prosince-_vrtulnikova_-92474/
  13. ^ http://www.lompraha.cz/o-nas Výroční zpráva 2012
  14. ^ http://www.lompraha.cz/en/ LOM PRAHA s.p.
  15. ^ http://www.defensenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014303120038
  16. ^ http://www.praguepost.com/eu-news/38144-ln-czech-slovaks-to-connect-their-fighter-squadrons
  17. ^ http://zpravy.idnes.cz/schopnosti-novych-ceskych-gripenu-dts-/domaci.aspx?c=A140402_115227_domaci_jw
  18. ^ http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/czech-l-159s-cheap-to-good-home-03494/
  19. ^ "Reorganizace Vzdušných sil AČR dokončena, koncepce dopravního a vrtulníkového letectva přijata". ATM 46 (1/2014): 54. 
  20. ^ http://www.armadninoviny.cz/nechtene-bojove-vrtulniky-mi-2435.html
  • Brown, Alan Clifford. The Czechoslovak Air Force in Britain, 1940–1945 (PhD Thesis). University of Southampton, Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities, 1998, 237pp. [3]
  • Titz, Zdenek; Davies, Gordon and Ward, Richard. Czechoslovakian Air Force, 1918–1970 (Aircam Aviation Series no. S5). Reading, Berkshire, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1971. ISBN 0-85045-021-7.

External links[edit]