Draken International, operator of the largest privately-owned fleet of ex-military aircraft in the world, marked another milestone providing adversary “Red Air” support for the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in support of Agile Lightning and Wing Fury from 26 to 31 January 2017.
The exercise demonstrated the F-35B’s ability to conduct expeditionary short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.
Agile Lightning integrated a complex training environment featuring distributed operations and Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operations. The mission included nearly 2,000 Marines in air and ground roles, more than 16 aircraft from 7 squadrons across 3 Marine Air Wings, the U.S. Navy forces from the U.S.S. Bunker Hill, Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 97, and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center participated.
Draken operated from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar during the exercise and marked their USMC adversary support debut with their virtually brand-new L-159 Advance Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA). Draken is the only contract air services firm operating jets with Pulse-Doppler Radar and 4th generation capabilities. The L-159 ALCA are equipped with pulse Doppler GRIFO radar which simulated advanced threat aircraft and missiles alongside Draken’s A-4K Skyhawk aircraft, operating pulse Doppler APG-66 radar.
The Draken aggressors in coordination with U.S. Navy aggressor FA-18E aircraft integrated with surface-to-air threats to present an anti-area access denial scenario for the MAGTF which utilized the 5th generation combat capabilities of the F-35B alongside FA-18 and AV-8B aircraft.
Lt. Col (Ret) Jeff Scott, Draken’s Director of Marine Corps Operations, and a former F-35B pilot, remarked, “The L-159 and its radar capability increased Draken’s already proven ability to replicate advanced threats to provide a realistic training environment. Draken aircraft provided a significant cost-savings to the government while reducing the consumption of hours on USMC and US Navy combat aircraft used in the role of a training aid.”
In addition to these exercises, Draken also supports the USMC as the current contract provider of live Close Air Support for Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) Training. Draken is the only contract air services company deploying live ordnance and the only contract air services company with both a US Navy flight clearance and a US Air Force flight release.
Draken International is the world’s largest operator of ex-military aircraft. The company is based out of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, FL. With over 80 tactical fighter aircraft incorporating modern 4th generation capabilities, the company is uniquely positioned to answer the growing global demand for commercial air services. Draken employs world-class, military trained fighter pilots including USAF Weapons School Instructors, Fighter Weapons School Graduates, TOP GUN Instructors, Air Liaison Officers and FAC-A Instructors.