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Czech Gripen fighters return from Iceland

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Prague, Aug 28 (CTK) – The Czech JAS-39 Gripen supersonic fighters returned from a five-week mission protecting the airspace of Iceland this afternoon, General Staff spokesman Jan Sulc told CTK Friday.
The flight back home lasted 3.5 hours. The fighters were again accompanied by an Italian KC-767 tanker to be used for in-flight refuelling.
The five Gripen fighters landed at their base in Caslav, central Bohemia, shortly after 15:30 Friday.
Four Gripens were policing Iceland’s airspace from July 29. The fifth plane was a reserve one. Their mission ended before midnight on Tuesday.
The fighter pilots made 91 training flights spending over 150 hours in the air.
“Air force troops have again confirmed their high preparedness and professional approach by their successful mission in Iceland,” Chief of Staff Josef Becvar said after the fighters’ return.
Along with eight pilots, about 60 soldiers from the ground personnel served in Iceland. They will return home during the weekend.
Two Swedish-made Globemaster planes will transport their equipment and other materiel weighing dozens of tonnes to the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic has leased 14 Gripens made by Saab from Sweden.
The current Icelandic mission has been their fourth deployment to guard the NATO member states’ airspace.
In 2009-2012, they participated in the air policing in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They also protected Iceland last autumn. They will return there next year.

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