During the weekend, NATO Days was held in Ostrava, the Czech Republic. This is Central Europe's largest event within aviation, military and civil security, and Saab was general sponsor.
The organisers estimated more than 150,000 participants during the weekend. The majority were families and others with an interest in aviation and the military, but there were also numerous important delegations and senior representatives from the Czech government, the Air Force and other authorities.
Major provider in the Czech Republic
"Saab is one of the biggest defence providers in the Czech Republic, and the region is important to us. This also applies to Saab's other business areas, above all within civil security. It is important that we are visible and present during Nato Days, not just in order to have the opportunity to demonstrate our products and forge contacts, but also to show our support to the Czech Air Force, who are satisfied with Gripen," says Daniel Boestad, campaign manager for Gripen in the Czech Republic.
Image: Major General Anders Silwer, Chief of Staff, Swedish Air Force, presented a framed photograph of Gripen to the Czech Air Force Commander, Brigadier General Jiří Verner.
10,000 flying hours
In June of this year, the Czech Air Force passed 10,000 flying hours with their 14 Gripen aircraft. This equates to more than 140 flying hours annually per aircraft, which is an impressive number of hours for the 5 years they have been operating Gripen. Because of this, Major General Anders Silwer, Chief of Staff, Swedish Air Force, presented a framed photograph of Gripen to the Czech Air Force Commander, Brigadier General Jiří Verner, at a ceremony on Saab's stand.
"We have now passed half way through the lease of our aircraft, and I am very pleased with Gripen. Everything is working very well, and I look forward to at least another five years," remarked General Verner.
Image: Mattias Helsing from Saab Dynamics demonstrates NLAW in the Saab stand.
During NATO Days meetings and presentations alternated with demonstrations and displays by the military, police and emergency services, primarily from the Czech Republic but also from other NATO countries. The Czech Air Force demonstrated its capability in the air with a number of military aerial displays. One Hungarian and six Gripen aircraft were on site, among others, and on several occasions the Czech display pilot Michal Danék executed an impressive display of Gripen.
A peacetime mission
The Air Force also gave some examples of how Gripen can be used for peacetime missions. Two Gripen then escorted a Boeing 737 from the Czech airline Central Connect Airlines, CCA, to a safe landing in front of spectators.
"Assisting a civilian aircraft encountering difficulties is one example of a peacetime mission for Gripen. The need for an escort can arise if, for example, the aircraft develops a fault with its radio or navigational equipment," says Bengt Littke, programme manager for the Czech Gripen programme.
Image: The Czech display pilot Michal Danék attracted a lot of attention during the NATO days. Both in the air, and as here, on the ground.
Photos: Libor Bukavansky