Contractors Prepare for New Defense Flying Training Needs

Potential requirements in the UK and the U.S. for contracted adversary air services have resulted in two new developments. Draken International of the U.S. teamed with British company Cobham for the upcoming Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) competition in the UK. Eyeing a much bigger U.S. Air Force requirement, another American provider—Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC)—bought the entire fleet of Dassault Mirage F1s formerly operated by the French Air Force.

Cobham already provides electronic warfare training to the UK armed forces using a fleet of converted Dassault Falcon 20 business jets. “This teaming with Draken adds a highly experienced and capable agile fighter training capability,” said Peter Nottage, president and CEO of Cobham Aviation Services. “Our work to advance existing in-house synthetic training technology continues,” he added.

Jared Isaacman, president and CEO of Draken International, noted, “There is definitely a global paradigm shift in how our warfighters accomplish readiness training.” He added: “This Cobham/Draken partnership for ASDOT…will create cost-savings for the UK government.” Draken operates a large fleet of former military A-4s, MB339s and L-39s.

ATAC is paying nearly €300 million to acquire 63 Mirage F1s, according to French magazine Air et Cosmos. The company—which is now a subsidiary of Textron—intends to operate between 30 and 45 of them for some 9,000 hours annually, if it wins the projected U.S. Air Force requirement. Belgian aerospace and MRO company Sabca will overhaul and support the Mirages. They were retired from service three years ago.  

Meanwhile, Discovery Air—another provider of contracted flying training to air forces—disappointed aircraft enthusiasts attending last weekend’s Royal International Air Tattoo in the UK. It had said it would send one of its A-4 Skyhawks that operate in Europe for the German armed forces to the event. A spokesman for the company told AIN that the no-show was a result of operational demand, rather than unserviceability.

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