For NATO mission Czech Fighter Controller augments Iceland Air Traffic Control.

Nov 27, 2014
During NATO’s mission to meet Iceland’s requirement for peacetime preparedness, Czech Fighter Controller First Lieutenant Jan Veselý augments the Iceland Air Traffic Control. Five Czech Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft as well as pilots and support staff are currently deployed at Keflavik and will return to their home base Cáslav in early December.
First Lieutenant Jan Veselý normally works as a Czech Air Force fighter controller in the Stará Boleslav Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) near the Czech capital of Prague. Some six weeks ago he changed his workplace; together with the Czech Air Force detachment of five JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft – currently ensuring NATO’s Iceland Air Surveillance mission – he moved to Keflavik Airbase, Iceland. For 1Lt Veselý his job as one of in total 25 Czech Air Force members is his first deployment to a mission outside his home country.

"There are not so many occasions for us to go on missions like this,” he explains. In some way the tasks during his daily eight-hour shifts here at Iceland are similar to the job he does at his home CRC. He controls the fighter aircraft once they have been scrambled for an intercept. Here he does so in close coordination with his colleagues from the Iceland Coast Guard in the Iceland CRC – call sign LOKI – which provide for overall air surveillance.

"In general, I expected more action here; it is a bit calmer than in the Czech Republic,” he says hinting at the two training scrambles the Czech Gripen conduct every day. He and his colleagues control the pilots throughout their mission.

Nevertheless, the benefit of his daily work at CRC LOKI is very helpful for Jan and his colleagues. "It is not only that we all have to speak English. There are also different mentalities here. And last, but not least I did not know the controlling standards they use here at Iceland,” he adds.

However, after a short introduction and training week at the beginning of the Czech Iceland Air Surveillance mission – that will end in early December – Jan realised that NATO standards of cooperation, procedures and coordination are the similar in all Allied countries.

Another advantage of his present mission is the fact that he can meet the pilots he controlled for a common face-to-face debriefing. At home in the Czech Republic this is normally done only by phone or email.

Jan is still most impressed by the aspect of interoperability; therefore he underlines: "What I will take home is that I can use the standards I was trained to in the Czech Republic in any future mission in any NATO country.”

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