Czech ALCA Display role demo in full swing. (All images: Author)Everything you need to know about Ostrava NATO Days 2023.
On Sep. 15 -17, 2023, we attended the annual NATO Days in Ostrava. The organizers pronounced the event to be a tremendous success, with a total of 185,000 visitors. The Ostrava NATO Days is a defense and security show that allows the general public to gain insight in the Czech and regional trends in this area. The event has two dimensions, one in the form of the NATO Days proper, while the other is referred to as Czech Air Force Days, basically being a big, international air show.
It has been the 23rd edition of NATO Days, and 14th edition of Czech Air Force Days this year. The show can be considered the most significant of defense and security events held in the CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) region.
This year’s show’s primary theme was the modernization efforts undertaken by the Czech Republic (and surrounding nations) in the wake of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Legacy platforms such as the Mi-24 helicopters, were presented alongside their replacements (UH-1Y and AH-1Z in Czech camo in the case of the rotary-wing aircraft).
The Ostrava show this year might have been one of the last opportunities to witness the Hinds and Hips flying together, for a NATO nation. During the opening flypast, two Czech Gripens accompanied the US F-35, to mark the Czech intent to procure Lockheed’s prime fighter platform.
Notably, the Czech Air Force Days have also become a venue where the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II had its European air show premiere, as a dynamic display. And this also came in two dimensions, as both the USAF F-35A demonstration team, as well as the Royal Navy’s/RAF F-35B performed their display routines in Ostrava. However, the British display was somewhat underwhelming – the jet only performed a hover near the crowd line and…