Military stops using Soviet-made AN-26s 06 май 2011 | 12:28 views (1283) commentaries(0)
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The Czech air force will stop using Soviet-made An-26 transport planes after 29 years on Thursday when the last two Antonovs will be scrapped.

Pilots flying the aircraft were reaping awards at air shows abroad, they trained landing on the Prague-Brno motorway with cargo and people aboard and the aircraft were also deployed in the foreign mission in Kosovo.

The aircraft were introduced to the Czech air force in 1982 and 1983.

One of the planes toured east Africa in 1995, flying for about 70 hours and visiting 14 countries, all without any serious defect, at unusually high temperatures and often in untraditional altitudes.

The Antonovs were also used in the training of pilots of the Czech made L-159 Alcas and Swedish-made Jas-39 Gripen assault planes.

In a NATO exercise eight years ago, a Czech AN-26 was transporting pilots of AWACS radar aircraft between bases.

In August 2004 the plane beat a French transport C-160 Transall plane in a competition in Orleans, France.

The Antonovs have been gradually replaced by Spanish CASA C-295M aircraft.

The first landed in Prague in January last year. It can carry 71 soldiers or 48 fully equipped paratroops or 24 wounded soldiers in the medical version.

The use of CASAs has been accompanied by controversies, however. According to media the acquisition of the planes alone was suspicious and the contract was probably overpriced.

The contract was signed in 2009, one day before then deputy defence minister Martin Bartak became defence minister.

The European Commission said the Czech Republic did not observe the EU rules of placing public orders because it opted for the deal for 132 million euros without a tender.

The advantage of the CASA plane was to be its possible use in Afghanistan where Czech soldiers are deployed within the ISAF peacekeeping mission.

In early April it showed, however, that the system of anti-missile protection does not function properly, therefore the departure of the transport aircraft for Afghanistan will be delayed.

The Czech firm Omnipol that supplied the system for 150 million crowns will now have to exchange or repair it.

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