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Vzdušné síly Armády České republiky
VVS ARC.jpg
Founded 1919
Country Czech Republic
Motto Our sea is in the air
Insignia
Roundel Czech roundel.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Aero L-39, Aero L-159
Fighter JAS 39 Gripen (leased)
Interceptor JAS 39 Gripen (leased)
Trainer Aero L-39, Aero L-159, Zlin Z 142
Transport Antonov An-26, CASA C-295M, Bombardier Challenger CL-601, Airbus 319, Let L-410

The Czech Air Force, ICAO code CEF, is the air force branch of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. The Air Force, with the Ground Forces, comprises the main combat power of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. It is a successor of the Czechoslovak Air Force (up to 1992).

Contents

History

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Interwar period (1918-1939)

Aero A-30

For a modern nation surrounded by potentially hostile neighbors, without access to the ocean, the Czechoslovak leadership needed to build a capable air force. So was born the motto "Our sea is in the air."

The Czechoslovak government between the wars balanced a home-grown aviation industry with licensing engine and aircraft designs from allied nations.

Several major aircraft companies, and a few engine companies, thrived in Czechoslovakia during the 1930s. One well-known engine manufacturer was A. S. Walter located in Prague.

The Aero Company (Aero továrna letadel), was located in the Vysočany quarter of Prague. Its mixed construction (wood, metal and fabric covering) and all-metal aircraft were competitive in the early 1930s; however, by 1938, only its MB.200 (a licensed Bloch design) was not totally obsolete.

The Avia Company (Avia akciová společnost pro průmysl letecký Škoda), a branch of the enormous Škoda Works (Škodovy závody) for heavy machinery and defence industrial organization, was different. Founded in 1919 in an old sugar factory in the eastern Prague suburbs of Letňany and Čakovice, Avia made entire airplanes, including motors, which were usually licensed Hispano-Suiza designs. The standard Czechoslovak pursuit plane of the late 1930s, the B-534 reached a total production of 514 units. It was one of the last biplane fighters in operational use, and also one of the best ever produced.

The state-controlled Letov (Vojenská továrna na letadla Letov) was also situated in Letňany. It employed about 1,200 workers in the late 1930s, and it manufactured the Š-328 biplane, of which over 450 were produced. The entire airframe was welded together, not bolted or riveted. The Letov factory was the only Czechoslovak plant that manufactured metal propellers.

World War II (1939-1945)

During this time, Czechoslovakia was divided into the "Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren" (Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia) - a rump state directly controlled by Nazi Germany - and the Slovak Republic - a German puppet state.

Many Czechoslovak pilots successfully escaped to Poland and France, where they helped to fight against the Nazi "blitzkrieg" in the first period of the war, and later in Britain where they created fighter and bomber squadrons within the Royal Air Force[1], which were a constituent of the Czechoslovak army in exile on the British islands. Czech fighter ace Josef František became arguably the best top scoring allied fighter pilot of the Battle of Britain. Other Czech and Slovak pilots continued to fight against the Germans in the Soviet Union.

Avia S-92, Kbely museum

Under German rule all Czechoslovak aircraft where absorbed into the Luftwaffe - and the huge Czechoslovak manufacturing base was converted to produce German aircraft and engines.

Cold War (1946-1988)

During this time Czechoslovakia was member of the Eastern Bloc, allied with the Soviet Union, and from 1955 a member of the Warsaw Pact. Because of this, the Czechoslovak Air Force used Soviet aircraft, doctrines and tactics. The types of aircraft were mostly MiGs. Fighters MiG-15, MiG-19 and MiG-21F was produced in licence; in 1970s, MiG-23MF were bought, accompanied by -23MLs and MiG-29s in 1980s.

In May 1987, two Czech Air Force jets were scrambled to try to bring down a Czechoslovak engineer attempting to escape his home country via a home-built ultralight aircraft. After flying about 10 miles to the West German border, the refugee's aircraft ran out of fuel, and he landed safely in a Bavarian forest, just before the Czech fighters could intercept him.[2]

Velvet Revolution to break up of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992)

In November 1989 the communist leaders and guidelines fell across Czechoslovakia. The two parliments of the two new states the czech republic and Slovakia, dissolved their union on the 1st of January 1993. The assets of the former airforce were divided 2:1 in the Czech favour. However the 18 MIG 29s were shared equally between the two countries.

Mi-24 of Czech Air Force
Czech Air Force PZL W-3A

Czech Republic (1993-present)

Aero Vodochody L.159A Advanced Light Combat Aircraft of the Czech Air Force
Saab Gripen of the Czech Air Force
An-26 of the Czech Air Force
Mil Mi-171 Sh of the Czech Air Force

The separation saw a large reduction in types, numbers and bases. In 1994 saw the creation of the 3rd tactical air force corps. The newest fighter in Czechoslovak Air Force arsenal was the MiG-29 (Izdelie 9.12). As there was only one general maintenance kit, which was given to newly created Slovak Republic, and all the material was split 1:1 with Slovakia, maintenance costs for the Czech Fulcrums would be too high. Along with unreasonably high, speculative costs for spare parts imported from Russia, which were realised through third party companies (Mil Mi-24 rotor blades acquisitions were over-priced by 400%), this led to exchange of 10 MiG-29s with Poland for PZL W-3A Sokół rescue helicopters with avionics and ground support (10 air superiority fighters for 11 light helicopters, exchange many considered to be highly uneven); burden of readiness squadron passed by to MiG-23s. Those participated on air excersises with western air forces, where MiG-23MLs were capable of outperforming Mirage III,F1C,2000 and F-4F in vertical maneuvering and acceleration and Mirage III,F1C and Phantom even in horizontal maneuvering, while being outperformed by F-16A in all aspects and by Mirage 2000 in horizontal maneuvering. As the Czech Republic prepared to become a member of NATO in 1999, it began to revise and update its doctrines and aircraft. Therefore, acquisition of a new, western fighter was considered. MiG-23MFs were retired in 1994, MLs in 1998 and MiG-21s were reestabilished as a carrier type for what was supposed to be a transition period before buying a new type - which was selected to be Swedish JAS 39 Gripen multi-role fighter aircraft. Because of the devastating floods that hit the country during 2003 the deal was put off[citation needed].

A new international tender was issued for an interim solution. Gripen again won this tender among six different bidders as the Czech Republic accepted a government to government 10-year lease from Sweden that did not involve BAE Systems. Media allegations of BAE Systems kickbacks to decision makers during the original sales effort have so far led nowhere in the judicial system[citation needed].

In December 2008 the Czech Air Force wanted to train helicopter pilots for desert condition for the upcoming mission in Afghanistan. Unfortunately no country wanted to help, except Israel. Israel saw it as an opportunity to thank The Czech Republic for training Israelis to become pilots when it just became a country. Czechoslovakia was the only country to help Israel in its beginning.[3]

Future

In 2015 ending rent of the JAS-39 Gripens from Sweden. Should be declared a tender or should be bought this Gripens. Potential successors: F-15SE , F-35A or F-16C/D Czech Air Force has ordered 4 CASA-295M. First was delivered in January 2010. They replaced older transport aircraft Antonov An-26. Czech Ministry of Defense will also discuss the purchase of American transport aircraft C-130 Hercules.

Insignia

The first Czechoslovak military aircraft wore, for a short time between September and November 1918, three-colour roundel, from the middle: red, blue and white. From 27 November 1918 it was replaced with slanted parallel lines in these colours. From 1920 they were replaced with an inverted roundel, from the middle: white, blue and red. From 21 December 1921 national insignia on aircraft became rectangular national flags. Finally, in December 1926 a current roundel of three parts in white, red and blue, was adapted.[4] It remained the insignia of the Czech Air Force until today, although in recent years, a low-visibility variant, all in grey, was adapted in some applications.

Structure

Structure Czech Republic Air Force

List of aircraft

The Czech Air Force operates 190 aircraft, including 61 combat aircraft and 84 helicopters. Thirty-seven percent of the Air Force's aircraft were manufactured in the Czech Republic.

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[6] Notes
Aero L-39 Albatros  Czechoslovakia trainer
attack
L-39C/ZA 8/10[7]
Aero L-159 Alca  Czech Republic trainer
attack
L-159T1
L-159A
4
24
Airbus A319  Germany VIP and transport A319CJ 2 replacement of the Tu-154M
Antonov An-26 Curl  Soviet Union transport An-26 4
EADS CASA C-295M  Spain transport C-295M 4
Bombardier Challenger 600  Canada VIP CL-601 1
Let L-410 Turbolet  Czechoslovakia transport L-410UVP
L-410UVP-E
L-410UVP-T
10[7]
Mil Mi-17 Hip-H  Russia transport helicopter Mi-17
Mi-171
21
16
Mil Mi-24 Hind  Russia attack helicopter Mi-24V
Mi-35
18
10
PZL Mi-2  Poland utility helicopter Mi-2 5
PZL W-3 Sokół  Poland utility helicopter W-3A 11
Saab JAS 39 Gripen  Sweden fighter JAS 39C
JAS 39D
12
2
leased for 10 years[7]
Zlin Z 142  Czechoslovakia trainer Z 142 8[7]
Evektor-Aerotechnik EV 97  Czech Republic ultralight trainer EV 97 1

In addition, several Sojka III unmanned aerial vehicles are operated for reconnaissance and electronic warfare.

Types recently retired from Czech service include:

See also

References

  1. ^ Brown 1998
  2. ^ Man escapes in hang glider; The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), May 20, 1987.
  3. ^ http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/index_view.php?id=350692
  4. ^ Hans-Joachim Mau: Tschechoslowakische Flugzeuge, Berlin, 1987, ISBN 3-344-00121-3
  5. ^ Jaroslav Spacek, Force Report: Czech Air Force, Air Forces Monthly magazine, January 2009 issue. Retrieved on January 6, 2009.
  6. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d Czech military aviation OrBat
  • Brown, Alan Clifford. The Czechoslovak Air Force in Britain, 1940-1945 (PhD Thesis). University of Southampton, Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities, 1998, 237pp. [5]
  • Titz, Zdenek; Davies, Gordon and Ward, Richard. Czechoslovakian Air Force, 1918-1970 (Aircam Aviation Series no. S5). Reading, Berkshire, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1971. ISBN 0-85045-021-7.

External links


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