Czech Gripen pilots practice Air-to-Air refuelling in Sweden

Major Jaroslav Tomaňa and Captain Petr Dřevecký of 21 tactical air base in Čáslav, the Czech Republic became the first pilots in the history of the Czech Air Force to perform air-to-air refuelling. After initial training at the Swedish Air Force base F17 in Ronneby, Sweden, the refuelling took place over central Sweden from a Swedish C-130 Hercules tanker.

Photo: Milan Nikodym

The first Czech Gripen air-to-air refuelling campaign took less than a week. Initial sorties were made in a two-seat Gripen, with a Swedish instructor. During the first day the Czech Gripen successfully connected to the tanker seven times. The first connections were dry-runs, followed by real air-to-air refuelling connections where fuel from the tanker was transferred to Gripen. During the rest of the week the missions were flown in single-seat Gripen aircraft without an instructor.

Photo: Stefan Kalm

"Air-to-air refuelling capability is important for the Czech Republic as the country is a member of NATO. This capability further increases and strengthens the cooperation between Czech Air Force and other Air Forces within NATO and it will as well facilitate joint exercises within the framework of NATO operations", says former Swedish Air Force squadron commander Robert Björklund, Saab Campaign Director Gripen Czech Republic.

Photo: Milan Nikodym