Aerial Warfare

Czech JAS-39 Gripen Fighters Practice Refuelling with Multinational Tanker Aircraft

42
×

Czech JAS-39 Gripen Fighters Practice Refuelling with Multinational Tanker Aircraft

Share this article
Czech JAS-39 Gripen Fighters Practice Refuelling with Multinational Tanker Aircraft
Czech JAS-39 Gripen Fighters Practice Refuelling with Multinational Tanker Aircraft

For the first time, Czech JAS-39 Gripen fighter pilots conducted dry-refuelling with an Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU) A-330 tanker aircraft in Czechia on February 13, 2024. Close encounters in Czechia’s Giant Mountains, as Czech Air Force JAS-39 Gripen from ?áslav Air Base conducted air-to-air refuelling training with a huge A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft from the MMU, which operated out of its main base at Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The participants in this exercise trained the dry contact procedure that verified the Czech Air Force JAS-39 Gripen pilots’ ability to make close encounter with the tanker without actually refuelling. The manoeuvre requires a high degree of precision as the aircraft travels at a speed over 500 km per hour and the brim of the drogue is only several dozen centimetres from the jet’s cockpit.

“Refuelling with this aircraft is not significantly different from other tankers as the procedures are standardized and so is the refuelling device. However, this aircraft is the largest of all the aircraft for which we are qualified. This slightly changes the perspective when you move around the tanker. As a member in the MMF, the Czech Armed Forces can use up to 100 flight hours per year for air-to-air refuelling, as well as for airlifting cargo and passengers and for medical evacuation. This enables us to hone our precision-flying skills and develop our planning and performance of air-to-air refuelling,” said Lieutenant Colonel Málek.

On February 13, 2024, for the first time, Czech JAS-39 Gripen fighjtes conducted dry-refuelling training with an Airbus A-330 MRTT plane Photo by the Czech Air Force.
On February 13, 2024, for the first time, Czech JAS-39 Gripen fighjtes conducted dry-refuelling training with an Airbus A-330 MRTT plane. (Photo by Multinational MRTT Unit)

“In the final phase, I have to carefully approach the tanker at walking speed. While the tanker crew unreel the hose with the drogue, I have to properly position the jet’s refuelling probe into it,” the pilot from ?áslav Air Base said.

An experienced air-to-air refuelling instructor from the Czech 21st Tactical Wing made the very first contact with the A-330 and the second approach was conducted by the aircraft of Lieutenant Colonel Vladimír Málek, Commander of 211th Tactical Squadron. Other Czech fighter pilot will undergo similar training by the end of February. For the first time, Czech Gripen pilots simulated this manoeuvre designed to extend the range of fighter jets in operations with an A-330 MRTT. Previously, they have trained air-to-air refuelling with German A-400M, Italian KC-767, Swedish C-130 Hercules or USAF KC-135 tanker aircraft. Czechia has been a member of the Multinational MRTT Force or MMF programme since 2019. The project brings together six European countries, which provide a multinational multirole squadron of eight Airbus A-330 MRTT aircraft to enhance refuelling and transport capabilities and provide medical evacuation when needed.

The refuelling training was conducted over Czechia's Giant Mountain region in the north of the country integrated in an MMU exercise with several receivers. Photo by MMU.
The refuelling training was conducted over Czechia’s Giant Mountain region in the north of the country integrated in an MMU exercise with several receivers. (Photo by Multinational MRTT Unit)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *