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First group of Czech military personnel departs for Iceland

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Prague, July 20 (CTK) – The first part of Czech soldiers to prepare conditions for five JAS-39 Gripen fighters that will guard Iceland’s airspace for approximately one month left the base at Caslav, central Bohemia, yesterday, representatives from the military have told CTK.
The advanced team is 35 strong. Another part of the ground personnel will arrive in Iceland on Friday. A total of 65 to 70 Czech soldiers are to be deployed in Iceland until August 25, Rostislav Lukas, from the Caslav base, said.
He said an Italian plane KC-76 will participate in the aircraft’s in-flight refuelling. The same procedure was tested during the Icelandic mission last autumn. The fighters are to arrive in Iceland on Wednesday.
Lukas said the Czech planes are to return to the Caslav base, again accompanied by the Italian tanker, on August 26. The rest of the mission are to return on August 29.
The Czech pilots will replace their Canadian colleagues, who now focus on air-borne operations against Islamic State, at the request of NATO.
Four Czech Gripens will guard Iceland’s airspace and one plane will be a reserve one. The first certification flights are planned for July 27-28 and the mission will fully start on July 29.
Czech fighters were on an Icelandic mission from October 10 last within NATO’s joint system of anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence. They returned to their base on December 4.
Iceland does not have its own military. The Russian air force has been allegedly increasingly active off its airspace.
The Czech military twice participated in guarding the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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