Czech pilots in Baltics scrambled nine times, face Russian jets | info.cz

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Czech pilots in Baltics scrambled nine times, face Russian jets

Czech pilots in Baltics scrambled nine times, face Russian jets
 

Czech Gripen fighter jet pilots deployed in the NATO Baltic air-policing mission were scrambled to intercept Russian jets nine times since the beginning of September, Czech Chief of Staff Ales Opata said in a press release after his return from a visit to Estonia.

According to Czech Radio, Estonian Chief of Staff Martin Herem stated the borders of the country's air space were repeatedly violated by Russian aircraft. The Czech mission is composed of five Gripen fighter jets and roughly 90 soldiers.

The Czech contingent in Estonia operates within a NATO mission protecting the air space of the Baltic countries which do not have supersonic aircraft of their own, working together with air units from Denmark and Belgium flying F-16 fighter jets from an air base in Lithuania.

In mid-October, the Czech army rotated a third of its personnel involved in the mission. Opata said the 4-month mission in Estonia is evidence of the Czech pilot's first-rate training.

Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) added that it is important to participate in NATO missions since the Czech Republic may one day require help as well.

Czech JAS-39 Gripen fighters already defended Baltic air space twice, in 2009 and 2012. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Czech fighters were deployed on an air policing mission over Iceland.

 
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