English translation by Frank McMeiken
Exercise Sky Avenger 2018 (SKAR18) was the result of a decade-long consolidated collaboration between the Air Force of the Czech Republic and the United States Air Force. The event was staged in the Czech Republic at the Caslav air base, home to the 21.Základna Taktického Letectva (21.zTL), the most important Czech Air Force base from which fly the JAS 39C/D Gripen, L 159 ALCA and L 39ZA Albatross.
The exercise commenced on 15 June with the arrival of the participating assets, and was developed from 18 June with the LIVEX (Live Exercise) phase, with the opening ceremony being staged in the morning of the 18th and the first familiarisation missions flown in the afternoon.
From Tuesday 19 June to Friday 22 June “Shadow” missions were flown from 10 am until 3:30 pm, while between Monday 25 June and Thursday 28 June the principal phase of the exercise was conducted, with COMAO (COMposite Air Operations) missions flown mainly in the mornings (10.30 — 12.30), and an afternoon flying phase (14.30 — 16.30) with further “Shadow” missions.
Friday 29 June was dedicated to the procedures accompanying the repatriation of the American assets to their home bases in the United States. The organisers thoughtfully organised a “Spotters day” on Wednesday 20 June, and we obviously took the opportunity to attend.
The assets involved were:
Czech Armed Forces with:
-21st Tactical Air Base
-26th Air Command Control Surveillance Brigade
-22nd Helicopter Air Base
-601 Special Forces Regiment
United States Air Force with:
-149th FW 182nd FS
-158th FW 134th FS
-187th FW 100th FS
-185th ARW 174th ARS
-155th ARW 173rd ARS
-Airborne Early Warning & Control Force
Royal Air Force
-34 Expeditionary Air Wing 8sq — 54(R)sq
The aircraft involved were:
- 6 F 16C/D
- 6 JAS 39C/D
- 4 L 159 ALCA
- 2 L 39ZA
- 2 KC 135R
- 1 Mil Mi 171
- 1 Mil Mi 24V
- 1 Sentry AEW1
Following the exercise, the Commander of the 21st Air Force Base, Colonel Petr Tománek, released at statement to the media.
“The cooperation between the Czech armed forces and the units of the Nebraska and Texas Air National Guard was instituted twenty five years ago. This cooperation enabled the Czech Air Force to become a member of NATO.
Sky Avenger 2018 was a great examples of this cooperation and the benefits it provides. The exercise has given us the opportunity to undertake new roles. Combat tactics, maintenance operations, logistical support, and protection of the forces are some examples of the many areas developed through reciprocal collaboration.
As Commander of the 21st Air Force Base I am truly honours that our infrastructure was the departure point for some of the best American squadrons, the Lone Stars and the Gunfighters, for the two weeks of the event. Personally, I hope that this collaboration will continue in the future. It only remains for me to express my grateful thanks to all the aviators for their exceptional work.”
The Exercise Director, Colonel Jaroslav Mika, also offered his thoughts.
“Exercise Sky Avenger 2018 terminated the LIVEX phase withe the last landing of an L 159 ALCA on Thursday at 10.06 ZULU. The principal objective was to train the Czech and American units to a tactical level that includes COMAO packets in a simulated hostile environment, with full integration of helicopters, airborne tankers, and airborne radar platforms with teams of JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) and SOF (Special Operation Forces) operating on the ground. The principal objective, and all the pre-established objectives, were achieved. To achieve these objectives, the pilots flew 153 sorties and 215 hours during the nine days of the exercise. The extent of the activities undertaken and their underlying statistics would not have been achievable without the hard work and enthusiasm of all the personnel. Both American and Czech aviators have demonstrated their true professionalism. Thanks to all the participants, Sky Avenger 2018 was a great success. Their exceptional performance will push other bases into organising similar events in the future.
The author would like to thank the Captain Tomas Maruscak, Public Affairs Officer della 21st Tactical Air Force Base Caslav.
Images and text by Lucio Polo
Produced by Giorgio Ciarini