On October 18 the U.S. Department of Defense announced the award of contracts to a total of seven civilian contractors to provide contracted air support services to the Combat Air Force. The combined indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contracts have a not-to-exceed value of $6.4 billion. The contracts run until October 29, 2024.
$15.8 million of the figure is being obligated at the time of award from the FY2020 budget, to cover operations and maintenance. The contracting agency is the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command Acquisition Management and Integration Center, located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
The Air Force issued a request for proposals (RFP) for ADAIR (adversary air) in August 2018, and received eight responses. After an open competition, contracts are being awarded to: Air USA Inc. of Edgewood, New Mexico; Airborne Tactical Advantage Company LLC. (ATAC) of Newport News, Virginia; Blue Air Training, headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada; Coastal Defense from Mill Hall, Pennsylvania; Draken International at Lakeland, Florida; Tactical Air Support, in Reno, Nevada; and Top Aces Corp., from Mesa, Arizona.
These contractors—many of whom already provide services to the Air Force—will undertake mostly air-to-air adversary training missions and provide aircraft for the training of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) and close air support (CAS). The contracts stipulate that the contractors will provide aircrew, maintenance and support equipment, while ensuring that the programs meet military requirements.
Work will be undertaken at many locations as the Air Force seeks to increase contractorized services across the Combat Air Force locations. According to the RFP, the USAF is seeking 30,000 adversary sorties and 10,000 CAS/JTAC training sorties per year. Separately, the Air National Guard awarded six contracts in 2018 to train its fighter forces last year, and a contract was landed by Draken International in md-2018 to provide adversary services at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
Currently the contractors operate a variety of types, and are acquiring more to increase the numbers of aircraft available and to improve their capabilities to make them more realistic threats for training. The Air Force is primarily looking for supersonic, radar-equipped air combat adversaries.
Air USA operates British Aerospace Hawks formerly flown by Korea, Aero L-59s, and Alpha Jets. It also has three MiG-29UBs. ATAC—part of Textron—has used a fleet of Aero L-39s, Hawker Hunters, and IAI Kfirs for some time, but is now introducing the Dassault Mirage F1, having bought 63 aircraft from France. Blue Air Training is a JTAC training specialist using BAC Strikemasters and the Romanian IAR-823, as well as the A-90 Raider, a development of the Finnish Valmet L-90. Coastal Defense provides close air support and ISR training with Aero L-39/59s
Another company introducing Mirage F1s—this time F1Ms formerly flown by Spain—is Draken International, which currently employs the A-4 Skyhawk, L-159 Honey Badger, MiG-21, L-39, and Denel Cheetah. Tactical Air Support also offers supersonic capability in the shape of the upgraded Northrop F-5AT, while also providing CAS/JTAC training with the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano. Meanwhile, Top Aces (formerly Discovery Air Defence Services) flies Alpha Jets, and A-4 Skyhawks, but intends to introduce early-model F-16A/Bs.