PM Andrej Babiš (ANO), in the midst of a trip to Asia to promote greater
economic cooperation, began a two-day visit to Thailand on Wednesday with
talks with the country’s foreign minister, Pravit Vongsuvan.
He said Thailand will buy 12 Czech military training aircraft of the L-39NG make and the Czech arms industry is looking to make other deals.
Accompanying Mr. Babiš on his Asian trip, which began in Singapore and ends in India, is a delegation of nearly 40 Czech entrepreneurs and Minister of Economic Affairs Marta Nováková (independent).
The aviation industry is one where the Czech Republic boasts a proud tradition but a reduced and sometimes problematic recent past. Now it appears to be on the rebound and the government has high hopes that the country’s biggest aviation company, Aero Vodochody, and one of its key aircraft could be at the centre of the revival.
Czech made L-159 sub-sonic aircraft have been used in Iraq for the first time against Islamic State, according to the Iraqi Army. The Czech government cleared the sale of 15 excess to requirement aircraft being held by the company Aero Vodochody. The Iraqi Army said the Czech aircraft are now being used on the outskirts of Mosul, which the army and Kurdish forces are currently attempting to win back from IS. Czech training and aircraft advisors have been in Iraq since June to help train Iraqi’s to use the planes.
The Defense Ministry and plane maker Aero Vodochody have signed an agreement under which the company will service the military’s fleet of 24 L-159 fighter jets and four Albatros L-139 planes until 2022. The contract is for 2.5 billion crowns. According to ministry sources the price is realistic since up until now the fleet’s maintenance cost approximately 250 million crowns annually. The air force has nine Albatros planes but five are not in use and the ministry is looking for a buyer.
A total of 130,000 people visited the two-day NATO Days and Czech Airforce Days military show at the Mošnov airfield near Ostrava, organisers said. In view of bad weather on Saturday attendance was higher on the second day, with 85,000 visitors registered on Sunday. Last year 220,000 people attended the event, which is one of the largest military shows in Europe. Organisers said this year’s programme was the richest in the 16-year history of the show. Over 250 pieces of military hardware, including various fighter planes, were on display at the free event.
Czech Gripen fighter jets which will in the Autumn patrol the skies above Iceland could for the first time be armed with air to air missiles, according to Minister of Defense Martin Stropnický. The Czech planes will be on duty in Icelandic airspace for the third time. The area is often subject to Russian incursions to test NATO air security and preparedness.
Czech fighter jets should patrol the skies above Iceland again in October, a spokesperson for the army’s general staff told the Czech News Agency. As in a previous mission last year, 75 soldiers and five Gripen planes are to be sent to Iceland. It will be the fourth time that Czech-owned Gripens have been deployed to guard NATO airspace in other states. Iceland is a NATO member but does not have an army of its own.
A first group of Iraqi pilots has completed training on L-159 fighter jets at manufacturer Aero Vodochody. Iraq has bought 15 of the planes, which were surplus for the Czech Air Force, for training purposes and missions. So far, Iraq has received only two of the aircraft. Great Britain has so far blocked the remainder of the delivery over fears that certain technology could fall into the wrong hands.
A Czech L-159 training jet collided with vulture at the Trident Juncture 20115 NATO training exercise in Spain, the ctk news agency reported on Thursday. The wing of the aircraft was damaged but the jet landed safely and will be transported by road to the Czech Republic. According to technicians who inspected the plane had the collision been closer to the cockpit the pilot would have had to eject. The jet was flying at 600 km per hour on its way back to base when the accident occurred.