On the occasion of finalising talks between Czech and Swedish parties on prolongation of a lease agreement of SAAB 39 Gripen supersonic aircraft, Czech PM Jiri Rusnok visited 21st Tactical Air Force Base at Caslav to get more information on operation of these aircraft and conditions of their pilots who guard Czech air space daily for eight years.
A squadron of SAAB 39 Gripen (also known as JAS-39 Gripen) aircraft serves not only for the Czech Republic but also within NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. “I am glad that pilots are very satisfied with the equipment they use. I think that this aircraft seems to be optimal choice for our military at all, that is in tactical, combat and operational economic respects,” said Jiri Rusnok, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic at the Caslav Base.
PM Rusnok was accompanied by Minister of Defence Vlastimil Picek and Chief of the General Staff of ACR Lieutenant General Petr Pavel. They toured the whole base including infrastructure and support facilities where pilots of SAAB had passed their experience with service. In discussion, Minister Picek, General Pavel and commander of the 21TAFB Colonel Petr Hromek informed PM Rusnok about risky factors that would possibly occure in transition to another type of supersonics.
Talks with the Swedish party resulted in mutually advantageous draft agreement on prolongation of the lease of 14 Gripen aircraft for more than ten years. Minister of Defence Vlastimil Picek said that the decision over the prolongation would probably take the next government and added that the present one had created the best for really simple decision in future.