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USAF seeks red air contractors

Photo: An F-16C of the 64th Aggressors Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. USAF/SrA Jake Carter


While red air is now a familiar feature of US Department of Defense training, the US Air Force has announced it is in the market for almost 40,000 hours of additional adversary air and support.

The USAF has unveiled plans to release a draft solicitation to industry in July as it seeks to provide the additional adversary air and support at 12 different bases. Among the installations that will see an increase in contractor-provided red air is Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, home to the Red Flag exercises. Nellis alone will take 11,250 hours of the requested flight hours from the stipulated total 36,231 hours.

The multi-award nature of the contract means there is potential for several companies to take a share. The contract is expected to be inked in January 2019. The USAF wants the winning companies to begin flying in May 2019.

Among the likely beneficiaries are Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), which now belongs to Textron, and Draken International, which will be profiled in the forthcoming May issue of AirForces Monthly.

Draken is one of those companies that are now filling a gap in USAF red air following the demise of the Nellis-based 65th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS).

Speaking to Air Force Magazine, Russ Bartlett, President and CEO of Textron Airborne Solutions said: “We’re in good shape to respond to the [request for proposals] when it’s issued in April.” Although unwilling to reveal how many or what type of aircraft ATAC may acquire to meet the requirement, Bartlett did say the company is prepared “to bid on airplanes that we know and are familiar with.”

“We have big plans in the works right now on updating our entire fleet,” Scott Poteet, Scott Poteet, one of Draken’s vice presidents of business development, told AFM. Current plans call for “Data link, helmets, high off-bore-sight missiles, better electronic attack pods, IRST [infrared search and track] capability, and integrating all those to force-multiply our capabilities to provide an even more aggressive and dynamic threat that they can train against at the same price point.”

As well as Nellis, other installations that will benefit from additional red air comprise Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Holloman AFB, New Mexico; Eglin AFB, Florida; JB Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Kingsley Field, Oregon; Luke AFB, Arizona; Hill AFB, Utah and Tucson Airport, Arizona.

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