Czech Air Force to protect Slovak airspace from September until end of 2023

Czech Republic's Defense Minister Jana Cernochova, left, speaks during a meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
By Kristýna Čtvrtlíková
3 Min Read

The Czech Air Force will help with Slovakia’s airspace protection from September until the end of 2023, with the government discussing the deployment of Czech Gripen fighter jets at a defense meeting on Wednesday.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala confirmed the discussion of the material presented by Defense Minister Jana Černochová after previously announcing that the Czech Republic would consider Slovakia‘s request for assistance.

The details of the deployment of multi-role fighters will be specified in a joint declaration between the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, which will also participate in the policing of Slovak airspace, the Ministry of Defense declared.

Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Naď asked the Czech Republic to co-guard Slovak airspace in June. A similar request was directed to Poland, and both countries promised help. The involvement of the Czech Air Force is made possible by the contract it concluded with Slovakia in 2019.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Bratislava began to prepare for the early termination of the operation of Russian-made MiG-29 fighters. Slovakia ordered 14 F-16 fighter jets from the USA four years ago.

Initially, it was expected that Bratislava would receive the first units this year, and the rest a year later. However, according to available information, this will now be two years. The Slovak Ministry of Defense attributed the delay in deliveries to problems with supplies caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of chips on the world market.

The conflict in Ukraine showed us how important the unity of NATO and the mutual help of allies is,” said Minister of Defense Jana Černochová. “I am therefore happy that I can negotiate on behalf of Czechia to help our Slovak neighbors ensure the protection of their airspace.”

“The draft declaration states that airspace surveillance will begin on Sep. 1 of this year and will last until the end of 2023, with the possibility of further extension,” the minister added.

The Czech army has many years of experience in protecting foreign skies. It has been participating in guarding the airspace of NATO member states since 2009.

Czech airmen have repeatedly operated in this way in Iceland and the Baltics, and are now on their seventh similar mission in Lithuania.

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