Private Red Air for F-35s

F-35 instructor pilots had private fighter jets in their sites as Draken International A-4 Skyhawks flew red air during a week-long deployment to Nellis AFB, Nev. The company said in a news release that it sent six A-4s as well as 28 pilots and maintainers to Nellis and flew 36 sorties as red air targets for F-35 instructor pilots and F-16 pilot requalification flights. “There is an adversary deficit across many coalition military services and we believe the solution is commercially provided, professional, threat representative, and cost-effective Red Air augmented by established military aggressors and enhanced through live, virtual, constructive technology,” Draken CEO Jared Isaacman said in the release. Maj. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, assistant deputy chief of staff for operations on the Air Staff, previously told Air Force Magazine that such contracts are a “small slice” of USAF adversary air. Although he acknowledged the Air Force cannot fully meet the Red Air requirement, he said it’s too early to say whether contracted aggressor air will grow in the future. “We’ll see how that goes and then we’ll adjust fire down the road,” he said, referring to existing contracts with companies such as Draken. (See also: The Readiness Conundrum from the June issue of Air Force Magazine.)