Czech Air Force conducts first Gripen air-to-fir refueling exercise

By Defence Industry Europe

Czech Air Force pilots from Čáslav Air Base successfully completed their first air-to-air refueling exercise with a JAS-39 Gripen fighter jet and an Airbus A330 MRTT tanker. This marked the first time Czech pilots have utilized the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) aircraft, based in Eindhoven, Netherlands, for refueling operations.

 

The Czech Republic has been a part of the MMF since 2019, a project involving six EU countries aimed at establishing a multinational fleet of eight Airbus A-330 MRTT aircraft. This initiative seeks to augment missing capabilities and provide medical evacuation when necessary.

 

 

Czech pilots have previously practiced refueling maneuvers with aircraft from Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the United States, but the Airbus A330 MRTT presents a new challenge due to its size. The refueling process requires precision as the aircraft must align at speeds over 500 km/h with only a few dozen centimeters separating the refueling probe from the tanker’s basket.

The exercise, described as a “dry contact,” confirmed the ability of Czech Air Force pilots to refuel from the A330 MRTT without actually transferring fuel. This successful test paves the way for further training of Czech pilots with this tanker, with more sessions planned following this initial success.

 

 

The participation in the MMF allows the Czech Republic access to 100 flight hours annually for refueling, cargo and personnel transport, and medical evacuation. This capability is essential for planning and executing Air to Air Refueling (AAR) missions within the allocated tanker flight hours, significantly enhancing the operational readiness and capabilities of the Czech Air Force.

 

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