The NATO Days in Ostrava have risen to the biggest security show in Europe since its first issue in 2001 and nowadays regularly attracts an amazing number of 225.000 visitors over the week-end. These two days at the end of September are full of events and at the same time used to celebrate the Czech Air Force Days. NATO Days Ostrava thus not only provide an extensive display of ground hardware, but also a great flying display, often combined with a ground show to demonstrate the the combination of air and ground power.
Where? Ostrava Airport, Czech Republic
The showsite itself is located at Ostrava airport in the Moravian-Silesian Region of the Czech Republic, approximately a 3hrs drive away from the countries capital Prague, and is actually closer located to many of bigger Polish cities. The airshow thus makes up for an intersting mix, located quite far in the East of NATO’s area of responsibility. Neighbouring contries participate with their hardware, some of it still originating from the Warsaw Pact area, European partner nations will bring some of their regular airshow acts, and the US usually also show a strong presence.
2015 was no different, with the mighty B-52 Stratofortress in the static display as well as the U.S. Special Forces CV-22B Osprey from RAF Mildenhall. Bigger planes in the static aircraft park included as well a KC-135 Stratotanker as a supporting aircraft for the ‘BUFF’, a RNLAF KDC-10, a Lithuanian C-27J Spartan, several variants of the C-130 Hercules as well as one of NATO’s “Heavy Airlift Wing” C-17 Globemaster’s, usually based at Pápa airbase in Hungary.
Strolling around the static display area the gems were a special painted CzAF Hind in a WWII livery and from the Czech side also a Mi-17 of the Flight Training Center (CLV) from Pardubice. A bit hidden in the static area amongst the C-130 Hercules was also a Swedish Air Force UH-60 / Hkp 16 Blackhawk helicopter. The Slovak AF put a special coloured MiG-29UBS in the dispersal area, and the ‘glas nose’ Let L-410FG for photogrammetry was a nother aircraft rarely seen around airshows. Aero Vodochody furthermore presented their upgraded Aero L-39NG on the ground. Only some days after its first flight with a new engine and improved avionics the jet was however transported by road to the showside.
In the air of course the full range of Czech Air Force hardware could be seen: airfield attack by a pair of L-159 ALCAs, supported by paratroopers deployed from a C-295M and a pair of Mi-17 and Mi-24, the L-159 solo display and of course the CzAF Saab Gripen.
This year Sweden was the special partner nation, thus also not only the strong presence on the ground, but they enriched the event also with aircraft from the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight. Apart from solo displays of the AJS37 Viggen, SK35C Dranken and the J27F Tunnan the jets also performed a ‘Saab formation’ together with the CzAF Gripen in the morning.
The Armée de l’Air / French Air Force “Ramex Delta” display team and their two Mirage 2000N was another stunner of the flying display, as well as the Hellenic Air Force F-16 Demo Team “Zeus”, presenting the Air Force’s pride with their special marked jet and a fast display routine. Especially during Sunday’s performance the ample use of the afterburner was clearly visible against the grey clouds.
While the Slovak Air Force’s MiG-29 are still in service, a solo display by them was of course also very welcomed. On Saturday the jet had a very low contrast against the grey and hazy sky, but that’s what camouflage is for…
The only solo display team present were the Orliks from Poland, entertaining the visitors already busy with the many attractions on the ground such as plenty of security force demonstrations or tank driving characteristics – or strolling around all the food stalls lined-up in masses on the showsite.
Combined with some nice low passes during the fly-in and fly-out it was once again a great time spent in this part of the Czech Republic.