ATAC - Airborne Tactical Advantage Company
 
POLITICO PRO Q&A: RUSS BARTLETT, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF TEXTRON AIRBORNE SYSTEMS
October 14, 2016
Bryan Bender

Russ Bartlett flew 4,400 hours as an F/A-18 Hornet pilot during his 25 years in the Navy, including a stint with the Blue Angels, the service's flying acrobatic team.

Now, the retired Navy captain is hoping to build the largest private combat air force in the world.

As president and CEO of Textron Airborne Solutions, Bartlett is at the forefront of a fast-growing Pentagon market for ex-military fighter pilots with second-hand aircraft to help train active-duty and Air National Guard pilots at a time when the military simply can't meet the demand for realistic training against would-be adversaries.

"When you look at the shortfall that each service has claimed there is a massive market out there," Bartlett told POLITICO.
Textron entered the fray earlier this year with the acquisition of Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, ATAC, a company founded in 1996 that has been working primarily with the Navy.

The new Textron division is ramping up to compete for major contracts the Air Force and Navy plan to award next year for so-called "fourth generation adversary" services to private outfits that can play the bad guys in air combat exercises involving the F-35, F-22 and other advanced fighters.

Eight companies attended a recent industry day at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, including Saab North America and Boeing, where a series of briefings laid out the longterm need to contract out such training.

"It is getting more crowded because there is obviously a demand out there," said Bartlett. "There are lots of opportunities for lots of industry players."

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