Military Aviation

DRAKEN L-159E HONEY BADGER AIRCRAFT PROVIDED RED AIR FOR USMC AIR ASSETS DURING EXERCISE WINTER FURY

The L-159E Honey Badger is a single-seat, multi-role aircraft capable of supporting a variety of air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance missions

Draken International’s L-159E Honey Badger aircraft spent two weeks providing Adversary Air (ADAIR) support during exercise Winter Fury at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar for the 3rd Marine Air Wing (3rd MAW) from Nov. 27 to Dec. 7, 2017.

According to a company news release, the drill was a high-end combat training event for 3rd MAW units, exercising full-scale Offensive Anti-Air Warfare, Air Interdiction, and Active Air Defense mission sets against a complex and advanced threat.

The L-159E Honey Badger is a single-seat, multi-role aircraft capable of supporting a variety of air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance missions. The L-159 Honey Badger features a multi-mode 4th generation Selex Grifo-L radar that permits all-weather, day and night operations. The L-159E can also carry a wide range of U.S. and NATO standard ordinance including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and laser-guided bombs (LGBs). This aircraft can also carry the Litening Pod and other specially designed Electronic Attack (EA) pods to satisfy a verity of customer requirements.

Draken partnered with BAE Flight Systems, who provided advanced electronic attack and flew alongside the Marine Adversary F-5 aircraft of VMFT-401 and F/A-18 Super Hornets of VX-9. Together the Red Air organizations delivered large force packages that challenged the F-35B, F/A-18, and AV-8B squadrons of 3rd MAW.

Draken flew a total of 46 day and night sorties supporting the exercise and provided mission planners, mission commanders, range training officers, and controllers to assist in the adversary presentations.

Jeff Scott, Draken’s Director of Marine Operations, who is a former USMC weapons school instructor and F-35B pilot stated, “Draken uses former weapons school graduates and instructors from MAWTS-1, Top Gun, and USAF Fighter Weapons School as well as former and current Aggressor pilots from all of the services.” Draken is also currently the only contract air provider authorized to conduct unlimited maneuvering against the Department of Defense. “Draken flies the full spectrum of adversary support, including initial training units like the USAF F-35A training squadrons at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) all the way up to USAF Fighter Weapons School, Red Flag events, and exercises like Winter Fury where radar and night capability are needed to replicate higher end threats. It was a pleasure supporting Marines and great to be a part of such an outstanding exercise,” said Scott.

Draken, that has recently purchased 22 former Spanish Air Force Mirage F1Ms and 12 former South African Air Force Atlas Cheetahs, is currently the only contract air provider approved to support the USAF Fighter Weapons School, and has supported 5th Generation training more than any other contract air provider, including F-22, F-35A, and F-35B aircraft from the USAF, USMC and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

Photo credit: Draken International

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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