The Czech air force is struggling to maintain a credible operational capability while facing a serious lack of funding to purchase both fuel and spares.

According to air force pilots, as few as three of the service's 36 Mil Mi-24 Hind combat-support helicopters can be flown at the same time, with similar problems affecting its Mi-8/17 Hip transport fleet. The latter are essential for supporting the army's rapid-deployment brigade.

The availability of the air force's Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbed and Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter combat aircraft is also being adversely affected by the fuel and spares shortfall. Aircraft availability for the MiG-21 units has fallen to 50%.

The air force's plans to upgrade a considerable proportion of its Fishbed fleet have been rejected by parliament. It is now hoping to gain funds to upgrade two aircraft initially.

Source: Flight International