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Flight activities present a crucial prerequisite for common training of JTAC´s (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers), ground troops, and pilots. By halftime of the exercise, over 200 flights have been carried out, with NATO member states pilots having spent over 320 hours airborne. „It is obvious the host country must make every effort to the benefit of the exercise,“ says the exercise director Col. Zdeněk Bauer. Almost half the flights carried out so far have been made by Czech pilots of the L-39 Albatros, L-159 ALCA, JAS-39 Gripen, Mi-24/35 and Mi-171Š.

„Our primary task is close air support (CAS) to the ground troops. We would not be ready to meet this goal without necessary training,“ explains Captain Pavel Linhart, an L-159 ALCA pilot. „Repeatedly within exercise Ample Strike, we prepare all-embracing scenarios inspired by both real situations in foreign operations and according to NATO standards,“ adds Colonel Bauer. The pilots are fighting off anti air defense and air refueling during their missions.

„We have been practicing air refueling for several years now. However, the qualifications conditions have to be always renewed each six months. During this year´s Ample Strike we have attached to a U.S. KC-135 tanker for 46 times, of which 28 contacts were training, while in the other 18 cases fuel was really drawn,“ particularizes Maj. Tomáš Merta, a 21st AFB inspector and a JAS-39 Gripen pilot. By the end of this year, the 21st Tactical Air Base Čáslav would like to have trained all its 20 Gripen pilots to be able to carry out air refueling.

A pair of American B-1 Lancer supersonic bombers, and a B-52 strategic bomber are participating, taking off from the U.K. base at Fairford. During their flights, they can use the KC-135 tanker to refuel, in cooperation with the air controllers, these planes are operating in training areas assigned. „A flight from the English base to Czech Republic takes over 2 hours, the bombers pilots have carried out 24 target guidance training missions from an altitude of 6-7 km,“ reveals Lt.Col. „Dumo,“ an instructor pilot of the B-52 strategic bomber.

Point of Contact: MAJ Denisa Vernerová, Head of Press and Information Center Ample Strike 2017, phone: 724 961 458, e-mail: amse.jmic@army.cz