Czech Mate! Spectacular Displays Confirmed
Published: 16 Apr 2015
After several years' absence, the Czech Air Force will this year return to the Royal International Air Tattoo's flying and static displays. In the 75th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, in which some 90 Czechoslovak pilots participated, their modern successors from the Czech Republic will put a Saab JAS 39C Gripen multi-role jet and a Mil Mi-24V or Mi-35 attack helicopter through their paces during the flying programme.
The impressive Gripen, built by Swedish manufacturer Saab, has achieved notable success on the export market. This agile fighter replaced the veteran MiG-21 when it entered Czech Air Force service in 2005, becoming the air arm's first Western-built combat aircraft, and 14 examples are in service. They are operated by the 211th Tactical Squadron based at Čáslav in central Bohemia. Among many other NATO fast jets, the Czech Gripens have spent time defending the airspace of the Baltic states on a deployment basis, under the Baltic Air Policing initiative.
Not for a long time has the menacing Mil Mi-24 attack helicopter been seen in an Air Tattoo flying display. The Russian-built type, best known by its NATO codename 'Hind', was among the most potent pieces of Warsaw Pact hardware during the Cold War years. It would have been at the forefront of any Soviet attack on the West. Today, now that former foes have become friends, the Czech Air Force's 'Hinds' - a mixture of Mi-24V and Mi-35 variants - are firmly integrated into NATO, and are among the alliance's most potent battlefield support assets.
Along with these flying display items, the Czech Air Force is also sending two aircraft for static display: an Aero Vodochody L-159 ALCA (Advanced Light Combat Aircraft), and an Airbus C295 twin-turboprop transport.
Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong said: "Our thanks go to the Czech Air Force for its excellent support of RIAT 2015. Given our theme this year of Securing the Skies: Past, Present and Future, this could hardly be more appropriate. Seventy-five years after Czech pilots helped defend British skies in partnership with the RAF, the modern-day Czech Air Force is a key NATO partner."