Draken International (Draken), operator of the largest privately-owned fleet of ex-military aircraft in the world, has deployed 11 L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA) to Nellis Air Force Base.
This deployment is to provide direct adversary support to the company’s USAF Adversary Air (ADAIR) contract.
Upon arrival at Nellis, the L-159 aircraft took to the skies after receiving a Military Flight Release (MFR) authorizing the integration of the L-159 fighter with USAF assets.
The L-159’s join 13 A-4 Skyhawks that Draken is already operating in support of this contract, for a total of 24 Draken aircraft now based at Nellis.
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.
Draken is the only contract air services firm operating jets with Pulse-Doppler Radar and 4th generation capabilities.
(3rd Marine Aircraft Wing squadrons along with joint forces participated in exercise Agile Lightning aboard Marine Corps bases in the San Diego area, Jan. 30 – Feb. 3. Courtesy of MCAS Miramar and YouTube)
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.
“The aircraft has exceeded all expectations with exceptional reliability and remarkable radar performance,” said Sean Gustafson, Vice President of Business Development.
“Draken is the only contract air service company in the world operating fighters with modern fire-control radars and 4th generation capabilities.”
The L-159, affectionately named the “Honey Badger” by Draken, is equipped with the sophisticated GRIFO radar simulating advanced threat aircraft and missiles.
(Learn More, from Sean Gustafson, Draken International’s VP of Business Development. Courtesy of Flying Magazine and YouTube.)
Draken has been the sole provider of commercial adversary support for the USAF at Nellis since December of 2015, flying over 2,600+ sorties and 4,000+ flight hours in this time.
Draken will continue to accept the delivery of several new Honey Badgers each month, resulting in a total L-159 fleet size of 21 aircraft by the end of 2017.
The introduction of the Honey Badger to the USAF is solving an ADAIR deficit crisis that requires immediate attention to safeguard the invaluable training of Weapons Instructors and warfighters alike.
To meet this growing need, Draken will increase sortie production at Nellis to provide support for the Air Force Weapons School, Red Flag exercises, and the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron.
(Learn More about Draken International. Courtesy of Michael Isaacman and YouTube)
Draken’s services deliver dramatic cost savings over the use of military assets, and have saved the USAF over $150 million to date.
In addition to this increased presence at Nellis, Draken recently exercised a global reach capability in an effort to support the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training (FWIT) program hosted by the No. 322 Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF).
The Draken L-159s departed Nevada on June 19th and began the three-day Trans-Atlantic journey after providing extensive support for the USAF Weapons Instructor Course graduation exercise the week prior.
(See in Action! Courtesy of 32TFS Aviation and YouTube)
Following the establishment of a cooperative partnership with Skyline Aviation B.V., the team began a 4-week deployment at Leeuwarden Air Base (Friesland, The Netherlands) providing adversary support to European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) F-16 pilots enrolled in the FWIT program.
The primary mission of FWIT is to develop qualified four-ship EPAF (i.e. The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and Portugal) flight leads into Weapons Officers similar to the USAF Weapons Instructor Course. Draken L-159s will continue to support FWIT missions throughout the month of July.
“We believe the Skyline-Draken partnership is providing a valuable, cost-effective service that supports our customer’s (EPAF) ability to train and graduate Fighter Weapons Instructor Training (FWIT) candidates in a timely fashion,” added Gustafson.
“European Nations are quickly realizing the need for a commercial adversary solution.”
“As Draken continues to increase capacity and capability, coalition warfighters will benefit greatly from an even more challenging and contested training environment that helps maintain the edge needed to fight tomorrow’s war.”