U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone to take part in Czech military’s Ample Strike training exercise

The unarmed drone, which has already arrived at the Ostrava Mošnov airport, will provide reconnaissance data during simulations.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 30.08.2021 12:35 (updated on 30.08.2021) Time to read: 3 minutes

The international military exercise Ample Strike begins in the Czech Republic today. It will include maneuvers with a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone, the same type that was used in this weekend's airstrikes in Afghanistan. The drone arrived on Sunday, the Czech Defense Ministry stated.

Soldiers from eight other NATO countries – France, Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, the USA, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom – will join the Czech Army for Ample Strike, which starts today and will last until Sept. 19. In total, there will be 700 soldiers, including 200 from abroad.

“The Reaper drone for the Ample Strike exercise landed at the airport in Ostrava Mošnov [North Moravia], and was transported to the Czech Republic in containers by a giant Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. The US Air Force sees participation in the Ample Strike as support for allies within NATO,” the Czech Defense Ministry said in a press release.

“The MQ-9 Reaper provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to both the United States and its regional partners. The machine that is located in the Czech Republic is unarmed,” the ministry added.

The drone will be used to show Czech and other soldiers how it could operate in a joint mission.

“As part of the exercise, it will increase interoperability and provide, among other things, simulated air support to advanced flight units,” Captain Andrew Layton of the U.S. Air Force said.

The Czech Defense Ministry stressed the drone's reconnaissance role. “The American air force perceives participation in Ample Strike as support for allies in NATO. These [MQ-9 Reapers] provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information both to the U.S. and its regional partners,” the Czech Defense Ministry said.

Czech Colonel Aleš Cápal, director of the exercise, said the exercise is focused on harmonizing the procedures of advanced guides with air crews and ground commanders in a multinational environment.

“An integral part is also the examination of the host country's ability to provide support to foreign units, the so-called Host Nation Support. Pilots will also practice refueling in flight and the tasks of direct air support,” Colonel Cápal added.

A Czech Jas-39 will practise refueling in flight with the help of a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, provided by the U.S. Air Force.

Gripen and L-159 Alca aircraft, Mi-24 helicopters, German Learjet aircraft, Hungarian Jas-39 aircraft, and the Dutch L-39C will also take part in the exercise. In addition to the drone and tanker, the U.S. announced the participation of F-15 fighters.

A Slovak soldier takes part in a previous Ample Strike. (Photo: Army.cz)
A Slovak soldier takes part in a previous Ample Strike. (Photo: Army.cz)

The excercise will use bases across the country including the Boletice military training area near Bechyně, South Bohemia; the 22nd Helicopter Base near Náměště nad Oslavou, Vysočina region; the 21st Tactical Air Force at Čáslav, Central Bohemia; the 26th Regiment of Command, Control and Survey at Stará Boleslav, Central Bohemia; and the Pardubice Airport Authority in the Pardubice region.

Ample Strike is the largest Czech Air Force exercise and one of the largest military exercises in the entire training year. The exercise has gained popularity among the inhabitants of Southern Bohemia, and the local mayors do not anticipate any complaints about the noise and other impacts of the flights, according to the Defense Ministry.

“The inhabitants are very much looking forward to the exercise, and I can't wait to be able to wave to the soldiers with the local children,” Ilona Mikešová, the mayor of the village of Ktiš, said.

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