Military Aviation

USAF releases RFP for Red Air support

The aircraft that will be used must be able to fly Mach 1.5, track “blue” aircraft BVR, employ captive air training missiles, video record an engagement, and carry electronic attack pods

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has issued its request for proposal (RFP) for contracted adversary air support on Aug. 24, 2018.

The successful bidder will have to provide 30,000 annual sorties in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.

The USAF plans to award an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with an ideal contractor providing an aircraft that can fly Mach 1.5. The aircraft must be able to track “blue” aircraft beyond visual range (BVR), employ captive air training missiles, be able to video record an engagement, and carry electronic attack pods, among other characteristics.

According Air Force Magazine, even if the solicitation does not include a specific timeline, the service has indicated plans to award the contract in 2019 or 2020. Responses to the request are due by Sep. 7. Several companies have expressed interest, including Tactical Air Support, Top Aces, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, and Draken.

The contract is the second phase of the Air Force’s effort to use contractors to fly adversary air, following a contract for adversary air specifically at Nellis AFB, Nev, that was awarded to Draken in June. The Air National Guard has awarded a contract for adversary air at six bases, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) is also considering awarding a similar contract.

The Air Force is looking to rely more on contractors to fly as adversaries after it has greatly reduced its own aircraft and airmen used as aggressors. One F-15 aggressor squadron was shut down in 2014, with only two remaining — the 64th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis and the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson AFB, Alaska.

“In a perfect world we’d have enough resources to maintain the aggressor squadrons we used to have and bring [this training] in house,” Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes said last September. “… In the world we’re living in now, I don’t want to have to trade an actual fighter squadron for an aggressor squadron because of limits on my budget. The next best thing is to see if we can contract some portion of that red air out.”​

Photo credit: Cpl. Benjamin McDonald and 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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