Draken International Pays Tribute to Senator John McCain at NAS Fallon
Fallon, NV (September 4, 2018) Draken International paid tribute to the late Senator McCain this week by personalizing one of their Douglas A-4 Skyhawks with the late senator’s name on the fuselage. As a Navy Captain, John McCain flew Douglas A-4 Skyhawks during the Vietnam War. On his twenty-third bombing mission during Operation Rolling Thunder in October 1967, he was shot down over Hanoi and subsequently endured five and a half years as a prisoner of war.
After learning of the Senator’s unfortunate passing, U.S. Marine Capt. Ernesto “Carlos” Howard (Ret.) presented the idea of memorializing McCain’s name on one of the Draken A-4 Skyhawks. Draken leadership fully embraced the project. “This is a great way to pay tribute to true war hero, public servant and American patriot. I think Senator McCain would be pleased to know that this A-4 Skyhawk, with his name on it, is being used to train United States Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Air National Guard War Fighters,” said Jared Isaacman, CEO of Draken International.
The “J. S. McCain III” Draken A-4 Skyhawk’s first mission commences this week in Nevada at Naval Air Station Fallon, in support of the U.S. Navy’s Top Gun School. Draken was recently awarded a new task order to provide close air support training for the United States Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC). Operating the only remaining fleet of Douglas A-4 Skyhawks in the United States, Draken is able to employ training ordnance with pinpoint accuracy using sophisticated avionics and highly skilled former-military pilots. This unique service results in considerable cost savings for the USN and preserves organic assets, such as the F/A-18, while still achieving necessary training.
The A-4K Skyhawks are uniquely configured to meet close air support training missions. The advanced A-4s include a modern pulse Doppler radar, counter-measures, Heads Up Display (HUD), HOTAS, inert ordinance delivery, long endurance, low operating costs, and other modern avionics that deliver advanced capabilities with military accuracy. The speed and maneuverability of the A-4 Skyhawk give the Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) trainee the same ‘real time delivery’ of aircraft currently operated by the U.S. Navy, similar to the F/A-18.
The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk had a long and illustrious service life for both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Fleet Composite Squadron VC-8, the Navy’s last operator of Skyhawk aircraft, deactivated their TA-4Js in 2003 after the closure of the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility.