The new Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, Karla Slechtova, paid a visit last week to the 21st Tactical Air Force Base at Caslav to meet with the airmen whose daily standby duties are of vital importance to the protection of Czech air space.
Accompanied by General Josef Becvar, the Chief of the General Staff and the Czech Air Force Commander, Major General Jaromir Sebesta, Minister Slechtova spent the time becoming acquainted with the procedures and processes of the Air Base.
The Minister was welcomed by the Commander of the Base, Colonel Petr Tomanek, and received a first-hand briefing on the history, function and operation of the facility and the role of the Tactical Air Force. She was also briefed about the upcoming tasks for 2018. Minister Slechtova was then shown the equipment and aircraft and given a detailed demonstration on the operation of the aircraft. The minister also sat in the cockpit of an L-159 aircraft during her visit.
"The main task of the base is to protect Czech air space while operating under the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system (NATINAMDS) and, when necessary, our aircraft will also carry out operations within the National Reinforcing System (NRS)," said Colonel Tomanek.
The Base is equipped with the SAAB 39 Gripen supersonic, the subsonic L-159 ALCA and the L-39 ALBATROS aircraft. The Gripen aircraft maintains 24/7 NATINAMDS readiness, while other aircraft can be used during an NRS, which will be activated on demand in the event of any potential risk involving Czech air space.
Minister Slechtova met with pilots and crew of the control and operation centre, and discussed in detail the emergency takeoff readiness of the aircraft and other procedures. She was able to observe the complete process; from the initial emergency signal to the final takeoff of two of the Gripen aircraft.
"Our Air Force enjoys a strong and positive professional reputation within NATO and, therefore, one of my first duties as Minister would indeed be to visit our airmen," said Minister Slechtova, and added, that after observing how the Base functions and on full inspection of the existing air defence procedures, she can more than assure the Czech people that their Republic is being continuously and adequately protected.