Full Scope Of Air Force's Big Contract Awards To Private Aggressor Firms Revealed

Three firms share in the spoils of the first big round of adversary air support contract awards.

Draken International

The full details of the first five bases to receive contract aggressor support under the U.S. Air Force’s huge “red air” adversary support program have now been revealed. Draken International and Tactical Air Support have both been selected by the U.S. Air Force to support aircrew training at three locations. This is in addition to the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, or ATAC, having secured adversary air support contracts for Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, which you can read all about in detail in our report from yesterday.   

Air Combat Command has now divulged the full set of awards it handed out on July 21, 2020, related to the initial round of Combat Air Force Contracted Air Support (CAF CAS) program. In addition to ATAC, Draken International was selected to provide aggressor support at Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina and at Kelly Field in Texas. In addition, TacAir has been selected for Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base in Oregon.

Draken International will provide aggressor aircraft to help train new aircrews at the F-15E Strike Eagle Formal Training Unit (FTU) at Seymour Johnson and F-16 pilots at the FTU located at Kelly Field, the latter of which is technically part of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. It is anticipated that Draken will station Mirage F1s and its new Denel Cheetahs at the locations in support of the contract.

The contract for Draken International at Seymour Johnson is worth $74.5 million and the one at Kelly Field is valued at $28.2 million.

USAF/A1C Shawna Keyes

Draken International will support F-15E training at Seymour Johnson AFB.

TacAir will provide 800 annual sorties at the F-15C FTU at Kingsley Field under a contract worth $90.4 million. This will likely involve the company’s upgraded F-5AT Tiger IIs. A full table of the breakdown is provided below.

The War Zone

Air Combat Command says the companies will “provide realistic and challenging advanced adversary air training. The air support services are expected to begin late Summer 2020 at each location.”

Eglin AFB, Florida, was also included in the initial tranche of planned awards, but the War Zone has learned that this decision is on hold pending an environmental impact study.

Christopher McGreevy

TacAir will support F-15 training with its upgraded F-5ATs.

Air Combat Command shortlisted seven companies for a combined total of $6.4 billion of potential support work on October 18, 2019. This runs for five years and includes both adversary air (ADAIR) and Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training. Among the seven companies, Blue Air Training and Coastal Defense are only thought to be bidding for JTAC training. Of the remaining contractors, Air USA and Top Aces are not among the initial round of contract awardees.

Having proved to itself the concept of contracted aggressor support at Nellis AFB, Nevada, the USAF is now rolling out similar solutions across more of its bases. You can read all about this big round of contracts and why the Air Force is following in the Navy's footsteps to outsource adversary air support to private companies in this past War Zone piece.

Regardless, these contract awards are a huge move forward for an industry that is only poised to continue to expand rapidly in the years to come. 

Contact the author: Jamie@thedrive.com