The Air Force is facing a shortage of enemy aircraft and pilots to fight. Well, not the ‘real’ enemy but the “Red Air” adversary aircraft for training exercises. To deal with this shortage the Air Force is looking to the private sector. Reportedly, they will issue a draft solicitation for 40,000 hours of adversary air support for 12 different base locations including over 11,000 hours for the US Weapons School at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Air Force only has two aggressor squadrons now and when you combine that with limited budgets training is suffering. They are looking to contract with Textron for help.
Textron Airborne Solutions has a contract with the US Navy through 2022, which keeps its fleet of 26 airplanes -including six supersonic Israeli F-21 Kfirs – extremely busy. That means the company is in the market for a whole new fleet to meet the Air Force’s needs.
“We hope to have that wrapped up by the end of March or early April, but we’re in good shape to respond to the [request for proposals] when it’s issued in April,” Bartlett told Air Force Magazine. He declined to say how many aircraft the company wants to procure, of what types, or from what sources, saying it’s not yet a done deal. However, he said the company is prepared “to bid on airplanes that we know and are familiar with,” promising additional details will be released soon.
“The need level is different for the Air Force,” said Tom Tyson, vice president of Textron Airborne Solutions. “Nellis needs this really bad right now. Other bases that are just starting to get the F-35, their need will grow over time.” – Air Force Magazine
Watch and interesting video about the Navy’s Aggressor F-16’s
Who would have guessed that the US military would be outsourcing an enemy to train against in the skies? The concept may be a good one though as contractors will work hard to maintain their revenues by providing qualified ‘enemy’ pilots and aircraft to fight against.
Featured image of a USAF F-16C aggressor aircraft with a camouflage scheme emulating Soviet markings with multiple shades of blue and gray by US Air Force