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The USAF has issued a Request for Information (FRI) as it studies the possibility of increasing the use of contractor owned, contractor operated (COCO) adversary aircraft. Air Combat Command (ACC) is conducting an analysis of Adversary Air (ADAIR) capabilities to fill a ‘significant gap’ in its training requirements. The service reportedly suffered from a shortage of adversary 3,000 sorties at Nellis AFB, Nevada, during 2016 and that number is expected to rise as F-35 training ramps up.
The USAF currently only operates two aggressor squadrons; the 18th AGRS at Eielson AFB, Alaska, and the 64th AGRS at Nellis. The 65th AGRS, that flew F-15C/Ds, disbanded in 2014. Draken International and Discovery Air Defence Services are both offering contractor air services, along with Textron, which has recently purchased the former ATAC (Airborne Tactical Advantage Co).
The service first evaluated the use of commercial ‘Red Air’ when it awarded a one-year contract to Draken International last September. During the ‘proof-of-concept’ evaluation Draken’s radar-equipped Skyhawks have been flying sorties from Nellis in support of the USAF Weapons School and the F-35 Joint Operational Test Team.