|I/ITSEC 2016: US GEARS UP FOR RED AIR ADVERSARY PROCUREMENTS
by Trevor Nash in London
November 21, 2016
The US Air Force and US Navy are both due to issue requirement documents in January for the provision of live red air aggressor training services.
Shephard understands that likely respondents include Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), part of Textron Airborne Solutions; Draken International; and Discovery Air Defence Services, a subsidiary of Discovery Air.
The US Navy is likely to be first to award a contract. Its requirement includes the provision of improved adversary training at its Top Gun school at NAS Fallon in Nevada.
Although the number of hours to be flown each year are yet to be determined, industry sources indicate that it is likely to be between 2,000 to 3,000.
The US Air Force contract is expected to be bigger with its draft request for proposal (RFP) being accompanied with a project work statement (PWS). The estimated requirement is thought to be 6,000 hours per year and the final RFP is expected to hit the streets in March or April 2017 following an industry day in January.
US company Draken International is currently undertaking a concept study for US Air Force future aggressor requirements at Nellis AFB.
'The demand for aggressor training is growing in the US military due to a number of factors,' Matt Bannon, ATAC's director strategy & marketing told Shephard.
'The US Air Force has reduced the number of its aggressor units and the Air National Guard squadrons that previously assisted in the role have also been cut. When this is combined with the cost of operating fifth generation combat aircraft, the fatigue life of those aircraft and the current US Air Force pilot shortage, the concept of commercially provided aggressor forces has now been fully embraced by the US Air Force.'
Bannon told Shephard that the initial 6,000 hour requirement is the tip of the iceberg with some sources, predicting a 115,000 hour requirement in 2030.
It is understood that the 6,000 hours in this initial contract will be split between Air Combat Command, the Air National Guard and the Pacific Air Force.
ATAC's main contract is currently with the US Navy where it provides around 4,500 training hours each year and over 45,000 since it first won the contract back in 1996. Re-bid every five years, ATAC is currently 18 months into the latest award period.
The company has a fleet of 26 aircraft including the supersonic IAI Kfir and Hawker Hunter although winning the US Air Force contract will necessitate 'going shopping for a higher performance aircraft with improved sensors', Bannon explained.
ATAC's director of air force programmes, Scott Rheinhard told Shephard that the US Air Force requirement is likely to be filled with a mix of two aircraft types with the 'high-end aircraft able to provide a near-peer threat to aircraft such as the F-22 and F-35. The end result could be a multiple award contract with different companies providing different elements.'