Draken International Supports Air National Guard Exercise, "Northern Lightning 2015"
In an historic partnership, the Air National Guard recently utilized Draken International's contract air services to support the Guard's annual training exercises on a major scale. During the training exercise "Northern Lightning 2015" conducted at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Wisconsin from June 8-19, the adversary role was filled primarily by Draken International's A-4 Skyhawks. Equipped with electronic warfare pods, radars, and GPS training pods, the Draken aircraft were able to provide a very credible & realistic threat at considerable cost savings for the Air National Guard. Draken International is a global leader in tactical flight support, providing contract services to support the US military and its allies in various military training objectives.
Draken International deployed five A-4K Skyhawks and a team of maintenance professionals and expert pilots to integrate with the Air National Guard F-16's participating in Northern Lightning. The exercise was well represented, with F-16's and personnel from Air National Guard units from Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota and Oklahoma all contributing to this important training event. The F-16's were able to practice air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training while having to contend with Draken A-4K's flying the role of the enemy. The level of training was further enhanced by simulated airborne and ground-based threats resulting in a very realistic training environment.
Lt Col Richard "Tricky" Wigle from the Tucson Air National Guard stated, "The training and quality of operational test we received from flying against the A-4 aircraft was top-notch. Draken provides a highly experienced group of fighter pilots that accurately and professionally simulate the adversary. For the cost of one F-16 flight hour, all of AATC's aircraft executed operational training against five Draken aircraft. To accomplish this same operational testing with Air Force organic assets would have cost five-times as much and eliminated some blue air training opportunities, as those assets would have been allocated to the red air role. This is a model that needs to be considered on a larger scale across the Air Force." Draken International was pleased to provide the service to the Air National Guard and hopes to continue the relationship in future exercises.
Draken International was pleased with the successful integration with the Air National Guard personnel. A Draken International maintenance technician and Crew Chief, Charles "Chief" Smith, launched many of the adversary A-4 aircraft and stated with a smile, "It is amazing to see our team in action and supporting such a Large Force Exercise. Seeing our aircraft fly side by side with the Guard F-16's makes us proud to provide such a valuable service. Our interaction with the Volk team was exceptional on all levels of support and we want to thank everyone from the fuel shop to the folks in the control tower!"
Commercially provided adversary air services are generating significant interest through the Air National Guard, the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. In fiscally constrained budget environments, innovative solutions are essential to ensure a high level of realistic training while still achieving substantial cost savings. As a result, Draken continues to expand its services to all branches of the United States military, international allies and the overall defense industry. This includes simulating threats for surface ships and aircraft in the Navy to air-to-ground ordnance training for the Marine Corp as well as adversary threat replication for the Air Force and Air National Guard. In all cases, Draken provides a credible, realistic, safe and cost-effective solution.