Czech Air Force
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (June 2010)|
|Air Force of the Czech Republic|
Czech Air Force emblem
|Founded||1 January 1993|
|Part of||Armed Forces of the Czech Republic|
|Motto||Air is our sea|
|Air Force Commander||Brigadier General Libor Štefánik|
|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.
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. 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.
Czech Republic (1993–present)
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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), its practical realisation would be complicated: Hungary has its own JAS-39s, while Slovakia has recently upgraded its MiG-29 fleet.
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. 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.
- General Staff (Air Force Headquarters) – Prague
- 21st Tactical Air Force Base Zvolenská – Čáslav
- 22nd Helicopter Base Biskajská – Náměšť nad Oslavou
- 24th Air Transportation Base – Prague–Kbely
- 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment – Strakonice – 2K12 (SA-6), S-10M (SA-13) and RBS-70
- 26th Air Command, Control and Surveillance Regiment – Stará Boleslav
- Pardubice Airfield Authority
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, 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.
|Saab JAS 39 Gripen||Sweden||Multirole fighter
|Leased from Swedish Air Force until 2027.|
|Aero L-159 Alca||Czech Republic||Light attack
|Originally ordered 72 units, but 36 units are stored in Aero Vodochody Aerospace. Two L-159A crashed.|
|Aero L-39 Albatros||Czechoslovakia||Trainer||L-39ZA||4
|EADS CASA C-295M||Spain||Transport aircraft||C-295M||4|
|Let L-410 Turbolet||Czech Republic||Light transport||L-410UVP-E
|Airbus A319||Germany||VIP transport||A319CJ||2|
|Bombardier Challenger 600||Canada||VIP transport||CL-601||1|
|Yakovlev Yak-40||USSR||VIP transport||Yak-40
|Yak-40 will be retired in 2015.|
|Mil Mi-35||Russia||Attack helicopter||Mi-35||12||Mi-35 will be retired in 2018.|
|PZL W-3 Sokół||Poland||Utility helicopter||W-3A||10||Only five W-3As airworthy.|
Types recently retired from Czech service include:
- Antonov An-26 decommissioned by April 2011 being replaced by the C-295M
- Tupolev Tu-154M Careless serial no. 1003 and 1016 have been out of service since November 2007 being replaced by the Airbus A-319CJ.
- Aero L-29 Delfin single-engine jet trainer, predecessor of L-39
- Antonov An-30 Clank photo version of An-24/26/28 series (1x)
- Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 latest versions (MFN) used for NATINADS (NATO Integrated Air Defence System) service until replaced by Gripens
- Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
- Sukhoi Su-22 ground attack aircraft, export version of the Sukhoi Su-17
- Sukhoi Su-25 close air support aircraft
- Antonov An-24V light transport turboprop, predecessor of Antonov An-26 Curl
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- Brown, Alan Clifford. The Czechoslovak Air Force in Britain, 1940–1945 (PhD Thesis). University of Southampton, Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities, 1998, 237 pages. 
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air force of the Czech Republic.|
- Global Security entry
- Official Czech Army site
- Book about JAS Gripen in Prague
- Photo galleries of the Czech Air Force
- Photo at Photo Planes.com
- Transcript of Czech Parliament concerning MiG-29 exchange with Poland