Ostrava, North Moravia, July 22 (CTK) – The Czech Gripen fighter jets will receive additional new equipment enabling them to attack ground targets, within the planned public procurement worth 427 million crowns, which the government discussed yesterday, the Government Office has written on its website.
“The public order aims to provide the JAS-39 Gripen planes with the ‘Air-to-Ground’ capacities, i.e. their capability of attacking ground targets,” the Defence Ministry spokesman Petr Medek told CTK.
At present, the planes can intervene only against air targets on any conditions. They can use a cannon against a ground target only if the pilot can see it, Medek said.
The upgrading will increase the planes’ chance of being deployed within the air operations of NATO, he said.
All of the Czech air force’s Gripens should receive the new equipment by 2018.
“The aircraft will undergo technological and software modifications,” said Jan Pejsek, director of the ministry’s section of communication.
Afterwards, the aircraft will be capable of carrying and effectively using weapons that are used against ground targets.
For example, classical air bombs or laser-induced air bombs will become compatible with the Gripens, which is not the case now, Pejsek said.
The Czech Republic has leased the Gripens from their producer, the Saab company.
The Czech government approved the first 10-year leasing plan in 2004. Last year, it approved its extension until 2027, with a two-year option. Prague will pay 1.7 billion crowns for the leased Gripens a year.