As we reported in the past, the U.S. Air Force is contracting the adversary training under the Combat Air Forces (CAF) Contracted Air Support (CAS) program to improve the training of the Formal Training Units (FTU) and increase the number of new pilots trained. On September 29, ATAC (Airborne Tactical Advantage Company) announced that it has been awarded a contract for the last location that was still pending, Eglin Air Force Base.
With this contract, worth up to USD 92 million, ATAC is tasked with providing over 1100 flight sorties per year up to four and a half years to support pilot training for the F-22s and F-35s assigned to the 43d Fighter Squadron “Hornets” (Tyndall AFB) and 58th FS “Mighty Gorillas” (Eglin AFB), respectively.
ATAC stated in the press release that the adversary support will be provided by the company’s Mirage F1 fleet.
As already explained, the original Combat Air Force Contracted Air Support (CAF CAS) multi-award contract, was announced to cover 40,000 flight hours of adversary training at 12 different air bases and 10,000 flight hours is support of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) training at nine Army bases. After some reductions, the current program’s first phase features a little less than 9,000 flight sorties at six bases for the first year and an optional three year-extension for a total of over 26,000 flight sorties.
The six bases involved are Kingsley Field ANGB, Luke AFB, Holloman AFB, Eglin AFB, Seymour Johnson AFB and Kelly Field, home of FTUs for F-15s, F-16s, F-22s and F-35s. The Air Force is wishing to provide the same adversary support to all air bases, but due to the budget it was decided to prioritize training bases.
As of yet, ATAC was selected for more of 50% of the contracts for this first round of Contracted Air Support, providing adversary aircraft at Luke AFB, Holloman AFB and Eglin AFB, with the first two being the largest contracts in the program. The other three bases’ contracts went to Draken International and TacAir, with the former working at Seymour Johnson AFB and Kelly Field and the latter at Kingsley Field ANGB.
Back in August, ATAC was awarded another contract of the CAF/CAS program, the Contract Close Air Support (CCAS) for Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training. ATAC partnered for this task with Valkyrie Aero and the two companies will support training at up to ten locations throughout the continental United States with the L-39 Albatros and A-27 Tucano, respectively, for 900 annual flight sorties and more than 1,100 flight hours.
ATAC’s flight operations at Holloman AFB are scheduled to begin this month and at Luke AFB by the end of the year, while Eglin AFB’s operations will begin by January 2021.