Draken International Wins $280 Million USAF Contract

With over 80 jets, Draken International operates the largest fleet of privately owned tactical aircraft in the world.

Draken International has been awarded the $280 million Adversary Air (ADAIR) II contract to provide adversary air services at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada through December 2023. Adversary air, or “Red Air”, is training that simulates real-world threat scenarios. As the sole provider of adversary support for the USAF, Draken’s team of highly qualified pilots fly the company’s advanced fighter aircraft to simulate non-western tactics against USAF assets.To support this contract, Draken will provide over 5,600 annual flight hours supporting combat readiness training. These aggressor missions include beyond-visual-range engagements, operational test support, dissimilar air combat maneuvers, offensive and defensive within-visual-range maneuvers, as well as advanced multi-ship tactics.

The Nellis ADAIR program, utilizing contract air services for Red Air training, began as an 800-hour proof-of-concept in the fall of 2015. The program has evolved considerably since that time and over the next five years, Draken will continue to expand its presence at Nellis AFB including daily flight schedules of 18-24 commercial ADAIR sorties supporting the USAF Weapons School, operational test missions, Red Flag exercises, Formal Training Unit syllabus rides from Luke AFB, as well as combat readiness training missions out of Hill AFB in Utah.

In addition to Luke, Hill and Nellis, Draken has also completed numerous successful deployments to Holloman AFB, Edwards AFB, MCAS Yuma, MCAS Cherry Point, MCAS Miramar, and NAS Patuxent River. The company has also supported training missions worldwide for our allied NATO partners, including operations in France and Leeuwarden Air Base in The Netherlands.

Here, a brace of Draken International L-159Es is shown paired with two F-16s (one Danish and one Dutch) during adversary training exercises. Draken first debuted the company’s L-159 fighter jets in January 2017 providing Red Air to the USMC in support of Operation Agile Lightning. USAF training against the L-159s began in late April with adversary missions supporting the 16th Weapons Squadron (F-16/F-35), 17th Weapons Squadron (F-15E), and the 433rd Weapons Squadron (F-15C/F-22), 57th Wing, Nellis AFB, Nevada. (image via Draken International)

As the only commercial adversary operator with certified tactical fighters employing advanced radars and 4th generation capabilities, Draken’s A-4 Skyhawks equipped with APG-66 radars and L-159 Honey Badgers with GRIFO-L radars have proven to be highly effective adversaries for the USAF, ANG, USMC and international partners. The company recently added 22 Mirage F-1M/B and 12 Cheetahs to its fleet, furthering its commitment to expand capacity and capabilities. Both fleets of supersonic, radar equipped jets are extremely low-time, affording Draken the ability to provide the warfighter highly effective 4th generation adversary training for decades to come.

 Draken International, a global leader in advanced adversary air services announced back in December the acquisition of twelve South African Atlas Cheetah fighter aircraft, reinforcing the company’s focus on providing advanced capabilities to its clients. Draken also acquired 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighter jets back in November. As the demand for increased capacity of adversary resources continues to soar throughout the Department of Defense (DoD) and globally, Draken’s new Cheetah jets will provide the USAF, USN, and USMC an advanced radar-equipped supersonic platform to train against.

Draken’s continued efforts to invest in aircraft modernization will ultimately provide the warfighter credible and challenging threat representation. Draken’s entire fleet of A-4s, L-159s, F-1M/Bs, and Cheetahs are currently going through a modernization program referred to as “RED STORM”. The RED STORM modernization program includes a number of enhancements including a helmet-mounted cueing system, high off-boresight captive training missile, and datalink technology, resulting in a force multiplying architecture of advanced capabilities.

In November, 2017, Draken International acquired 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighter jets in an effort to enhance adversary services for the United States Air Force and other Department of Defense clients. These Mirage F1Ms were predominantly flown by the Spanish Air Force and have been fully modernized. This acquisition increased Draken’s fleet size to over 100 fighter jets as the company continues to expand its capabilities. (image via Draken International)

The financial benefits for the military to contract out this work are many-fold, as it saves the wear and tear on active duty, front-line aircraft which would otherwise be employed in the job. The cost savings are enormous; a Draken International jet costs the taxpayer roughly 20% of what a standard front line U.S. military jet, like an F-16, would cost to operate… and as little as 10% in comparison to a 5th generation type like the F-35. Quite simply, it is a much more expedient and cost-effective way of doing business to contract out the work to a company like Draken International. The tax-payer no longer has the year-round burden of owning a large fleet of adversary aircraft, nor the cost of employing the highly skilled personnel involved in maintaining and flying them.

Draken CEO Jared Isaacman stated, “We are thrilled to be able to continue supporting the US Air Force at Nellis AFB through the ADAIR II contract. With an ever-growing fleet of capable, cost-effective fighter aircraft, we will continue to enhance our capabilities to provide realistic, threat representative ADAIR for the USAF and Joint partners alike.”


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