Global Hawks will be allowed to fly over Czech territory as of 2017, the Czech government approved in late October, according to the daily Pravo.
The government gave consent to the crossings and overflights of armed forces of NATO members, including overflights of unmanned aerial vehicles provided that their surveillance and arms systems are switched off.
Global Hawks will fly over the Czech Republic on their way to the Baltics and the Russian border, for example.
“We are part of NATO, the allied drones protect us, too. The overflights will be possible under clearly set conditions, like in Germany and other countries,” Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky told the paper.
“It is expected that for example a Global Hawk fulfilling tasks for NATO will fly high above Czech territory,” Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek said.
The Global Hawk is the size of a transport aircraft, 15 metres long, five metres high and with wing span of 40 metres. Its flying range is nearly 23,000 km, while the flying range of the Czech government plane is 8,000 km, Pravo writes.
The U.S. Global Hawk drones take off from the Italian air base Sigonelle in Sicily to monitor regions such as the territory of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Representatives of the Czech defence, transport and interior ministries repeatedly negotiated about the U.S. request since the Czech air navigation services had no experience with such requests. Finally they agreed to apply the laws related to Czech drone operators to the U.S. unmanned aircraft, Pravo writes.
Czech Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Vitezslav Hezky said though the pilot is not in the cockpit of the drone but thousand of kilometres away at an air base, this is a controlled flight.
Spy drones fly as high as 20 kilometres above ground, which is far above the altitudes in which civilian aircraft fly, he said.
Hezky said the U.S. military will have to report the route and time of every overflight in advance to the Czech Civil Aviation Authority.
The overflights of Global Hawks are connected with the U.S. plan to deploy up to 4,500 troops along NATO’s eastern border with Russia, or in the Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
Source: Prague Monitor