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Hungarian Gripen Fighters On Missions Above Central And Eastern Europe

Tamás Székely 2015.07.08.

Gripen fighters of the Hungarian Defence Forces completed two missions in Slovenian airspace as part of Hungary’s commitments to NATO, the Defence Ministry told news agency MTI. The Hungarian pilots intercepted and ID’d two aircraft during their missions, the ministry said. As of October 2014, Hungary and Italy have been in charge of air control operations in Slovenia. The Hungarian missions are flown from the Kecskemét Air Base.

Starting in September this year, Hungary will be also in charge of protecting the airspace of the three Baltic NATO member countries for four months, the ministry said, adding that the various commitments will allow Hungary to use its air force outside its borders. Hungary’ Gripen aircraft will also contribute to the joint EU Battle Group set up by the Visegrad Four countries, in the first half of 2016, the ministry added. With these commitments, Hungary is among those NATO member states that are able to deploy their air forces beyond the borders of their country. Starting from January 1, 2016, the Hungarian Gripen fighters will provide close air support (CAS) capability in the European Union Battle Group of the Visegrád Four countries that will be on standby for the EU for six months.

The last couple of months have been a rather difficult period for Hungary’s air force. In May, a Hungarian Gripen overran the runway at Caslav military airbase in the Czech Republic, while in June a highly experienced pilot of a Gripen fighter carried out an emergency landing before ejecting at the Kecskemét airbase. Two weeks ago, a Soviet-made Yak-52 training aircraft caught fire and crash landed. The pilots made an emergency landing and managed to leave the aircraft but one of them suffered severe burns. The outcome of investigations into the recent military aircraft accidents is expected by the autumn, Chief of General Staff Tibor Benkő told parliament’s national security committee last Wednesday.

via, MTI and photo: Sándor Ujvári – MTI