A final flight for the MiG-21s
The Czech Republic's famous fleet of Soviet-made MiG-21 fighter jets flew a final flight at the weekend after thirty years of service. Thousands came out to see the show as well as to greet the MiGs' successors: the country's new Gripen fighters from Sweden. How do the planes compare? It's a whole new world.
All this of course comes at a price: it took ten years for the Czech Republic to negotiate a deal, finally settling on the 14 new jets, and the Swedish Gripens have been leased to the tune of roughly 20 billion crowns, to be paid over twenty years. That's about 820 million US dollars. Some have questioned whether the Czech Republic really needed the brand-new Gripens but the Czech Air Force has countered that the price and deal on servicing for the planes was right. It adds that in the age of global terrorism it would be unthinkable not to employ modern machines. The Gripens, for one, can arrive anywhere in the Czech Republic within 18 minutes. While hopefully they will never be required in an actual terrorist situation, at least they are apparently up to the task. It's their responsibility in any case, now that the MiGs have gone.