Czech Air Force
The Air Forces (AF) together with Ground Forces are the main combat power of the Czech military. Their primary mission is to ensure sovereignty of the Czech Republic airspace. Since March 12, 1999, following the accession into NATO defence structures, their main mission rests in protecting Czech airspace in the framework of both the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS) and National Reinforcement System, including activities associated with the RENEGATE antiterrorist to prevent from the usage of a civilian aircraft as a weapon to commit a terrorist attack. The Air Force combat components are capable of conducting both day-time and night-time combat operations, and even under deteriorated climatic conditions.
In light of protecting the Czech Republic from a potential attack, prevention and intimidation are the prime functions of the NATINADS system. Through an active participation in this system, which is one of the main pillars of Czech defence within NATO, the Czech Republic contributes to developing collective defence of the Alliance. To achieve this objective, the capability of the supersonic-based Tactical Air Force is indispensable. If the intensity and scope of its training is enhanced and adequate armament and communication technologies are added, the Air Force will also be capable of completing missions focused on offensive air operations.
Czech Air Force combat units also participate in international operations outside Czech territory in the framework of international air task forces. However, the type of mission to be assigned to them depends on their level of readiness and equipment. Training of Air Force components is primarily aimed at fulfi lling the so-called Defensive Counter-Air (DCA) missions (i.e. stopping and destroying enemy forces attempting to attack or penetrate Czech airspace). Both fl ying and ground personnel of the Air Force combat elements are prepared primarily for missions to be fulfi lled as part of international air task forces in accordance with the Alliance’s operational requirements. Forward Air Controllers (FAC) are earmarked personnel of the Air Force who cooperate with land units and provide guidance to Close Air Support (CAS) aircraft to hit the intended target.
The role of the Air Force combat support units lies in conducting Anti-Surface Air Operations. The tactical air transport and helicopter forces are themain elements providing this type of support. The helicopter force is ready to accomplish a broad spectrum of operational missions ranging from logistics support to assisting special forces.
The Air Defence (AD) elements protect the assets critical for national defence and can also be deployed in NATO missions, both for supporting Land Forces and protecting airbases in the homeland as well as abroad. The AD personnel are prepared to fulfill operational missions in the international environment in accordance with the NATO standards.
The Czech Republic airspace reconnaissance is implemented by means of active AD radar systems and completed with information from stationary passive surveillance systems, military airport radars and civilian air traffi c control. At the strategic level, this capability is ensured through the Czech Republic’s participation in NATO Airborne Early Warning System and Communication [NAEW&C], the allied air defence system.
The radar forces, as a part of NATINADS and the Czech AD National Reinforcement System, are capable of ensuring a continuous and uninterrupted radiolocation coverage from 3,000 up to 30,000 meters above sea level to detect, track and identify specifi c targets by active radar systems (FADR – Fixed Air Defence Radar and MADR – Mobile Air Defence Radar). As for altitude up to 3,000 m, airspace reconnaissance is carried out by creating an incoherent radiolocation field. If need be, the radar forces are able to move their equipment so as to accomplish missions of the Czech AD National Reinforcement System and ground-based air defence.
Operational level directly controlling the Air Forces formations and units is represented by the Air Forces Headquarters (AF HQ). Basic elements of the AF are Tactical Air Force and Air Defence, Subordinated Air Force bases, formations and units are ready to fulfil operational and tactical missions and they represent one of the decisive striking powers of the Army of the Czech Republic. Combat units organize training of pilots, aircraft crews, crews of Air Defence Missile Troops and Radiotechnical Troops as well as supporting personnel.
The AF members control the military air traffic, they co-ordinate it with other air traffic within the Czech Republic airspace and carry out co-ordination missions for the benefit of Ground Forces, provide air transportation of both the personnel and equipment as well as the air transportation of statesmen, air first-aid service, air search and rescue service (SAR), air survey photography and wide-range reconnaissance for the needs of the Army of the Czech Republic. In case of natural disasters and accidents, detached AF units and means are ready to fulfill the missions for the benefit of civilian protection.
Air Force Training Base conducts training of ground personnel (conscripts) to be able to operate the aviation air and ground equipment as well as the equipment of Air Defence. Further elements subordinate to the Air Forces Headquarters include Air Testing Centre, Air Repair Centrs, ACR Air Traffic Control, Meteorological Centre, Passive Systems Centre, Airfield Administration, 4th 0perational Regiment, 4th Topographic Support Centre, 4th Project and Technology Centre of Information and Military Art Ensemble "0ndrás".
In the 2011 White Paper the Ministry of Defence identified the following measures to be adopted:
- retain the tactical Air Force, equipped with both supersonic and subsonic aircraft for defending the Czech Republic airspace, but discontinue the development of the anti-aircraft missile defence based on the 2K12 KUB system. This measure corresponds with the NATO recommendation in whose framework a new territorial anti-missile defence is being built. The Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) capability must be preserved and developed;
- gradually withdraw from active service the Mi–24/35 attack helicopters whose level of ballistic protection is low, avionics obsolete, and that are not interoperable by NATO standards. No more investments shall be placed in this capability. As soon as possible, the newer Mi–35 attack helicopters should be sold off and attention should focus on capabilities of the transport helicopter fleet that can be used not only in the framework of NATO collective defence but also for the Integrated Rescue System;
- stop investments in the further development of passive surveillance systems. Concentrate on a renewal and development of the systems of stationary and mobile radars which are directly linked to the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS);
- shut down at least one of the four tactical airbases. In its regular evaluation, NATO recommends concentrating the air force on two tactical airbases;
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