Draken Supports Multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Exercise
Draken International, the leading global provider of contract air services, recently supported operational testing of the F-35 at Edwards Air Force Base by flying the company's A-4K fighter jets as simulated adversaries. The large force training exercise was initiated by the 323rd Test and Evaluation Squadron and supported by the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team from Aug. 17-28. This was the first time any commercial air services company had provided adversary support for the F-35.
Draken flew as many as five of their A-4K aircraft at a time as adversaries in support of F-35 operational testing against both Royal Netherlands Air Force and Royal Air Force F-35A and F-35B aircraft as well as Royal Netherlands F-16 Vipers.
Draken's A-4K aircraft are equipped with 4th generation technology such as Pulse Doppler radar, electronic attack pods, and ground controllers to provide realistic threat presentations for integrated F-35 operational testing. The test exercise will enable an initial assessment of 4th and 5th generation fighter integration, including Link-16 interoperability aspects. The lessons learned will lay the groundwork for future cooperation between 4th and 5th generation fighters and will help shape F-35A tactics.
Draken Pilot Jeff Scott comments, "As a former Marine F-35 squadron commander and now Draken A-4 aggressor, I feel fortunate to be able to support the next generation premier fighter aircraft in this capacity. Our goal was to present a realistic adversary with our radar-equipped aircraft and challenge their systems. As you would expect, we were impressed by the F-35 and its pilots. They performed with state-of-the-art precision and we look forward to being their sparring partner again very soon."
Draken's support of the F-35 was historic, but it will assuredly not be the last time the company supports such an exercise. Draken maintains the world's largest privately owned fleet of fighter aircraft and is the only commercial air services provider with 4th generation fighter capabilities. This uniquely positions the company to meet the tremendous demand for realistic training adversaries at a fraction of the cost of military jets.
Draken CEO Jared Isaacman states, "It is such a privilege for us to be able to provide such critical and realistic training to the global F-35 community while at the same time realizing enormous cost savings for the Department of Defense and American taxpayers."
Draken VP of Business Development Sean Gustafson adds, "We're excited to be supporting such an important global defense initiative as the F-35 and also very proud of the entire organization for a number of recent achievements. In addition to the F-35 training exercise, Draken has also recently supported the USAF's large force exercise ‘Northern Lightning', USMC live-fire close air support for JTAC training, and aggressor support for the French Navy. In fact, this past week Draken conducted flight operations nearly simultaneously in France, Cherry Point NC, Yuma, AZ, Lakeland, FL and of course Edwards AFB in CA."
Commercial air services have been around for decades, providing dramatic cost savings to the defense industry over the use of military aircraft. The difference with Draken is the vast size of the company's fleet and its unique 4th generation capabilities. This makes Draken the most credible and capable provider of adversary training, ship defense services, JTAC training and other unique mission sets.