Tyndall Air Force Base made history December 14 as a unit of F-1 Mirage aircraft arrived at the base in support of an Air Combat Command mass training effort in partnership with the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC). For the next year or two, Tyndall AFB will house and support the contracted unit of about six aircraft, five pilots and 30 maintenance personnel. The ATAC was awarded a government procurement contract under Combat Air Forces to deliver an alternative airframe, the F-1 Mirage which is projected to replace Tyndall’s current fleet of T-38 Talon aircraft. This new partnership will enable F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning pilots to engage in tactical airborne training, adversary air live training at Tyndall and other U.S. Air Force bases such as Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
“At Tyndall, we have all the right requirements in place so we could operate on time and not have to wait,” said Lt. Col. Jason White, 325th Operations Support Squadron Director of Operations. “Tyndall’s recent Environmental Impact Study allowed us to support the additional aircraft without a waiting period, unlike our brothers and sisters at Eglin. Adversary air is the most efficient training aide and this is something that (Air Combat Command) has been working toward for a couple of years now. The aircraft will use non-live munitions, launch, and meet in the air space for simulated training including radio and radar operations for the purpose of training. The pilot would acquire the target, or the adversary, simulate engaging the adversary and then simulate firing missiles at the aircraft.”
Pilots are expected to begin training in January 2021 utilizing Tyndall’s air space. ATAC’s Mirage training program is anticipated to fly more than 1,100 sorties over the next several years to provide adversary air support to the 43rd Fighter Squadron, which is the schoolhouse for the F-22s, and the schoolhouse for the F-35s, the 58th FS. According to White, that means fighter units typically have to use their allotted flying hours to be both the good guy and the bad guy in the air. Air Force Special Operations Command Joint Terminal Air Controllers will also benefit from the program. ATAC provides live air-to-air, air-to-ship and air-to-surface training for multiple branches of service across the Department of Defense.
Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), is a government contractor based in Newport News, Virginia, USA. ATAC was acquired by Textron in 2016 and continues to operate as a subsidiary. ATAC has been selected as a provider of contracted air services under the U.S. Air Force’s Combat Air Forces (CAF) Contracted Air Support (CAS) program. They will deliver full-service commercial Adversary Air (ADAIR) and Contracted Close Air Support (CCAS) sorties with ATAC’s F1 Mirage and L-39 Albatros fighter aircraft, and Valkyrie’s A-27 Tucano trainer aircraft. This Multi-Award Contract allows ATAC to compete for subsequent Task Orders at 22 operating locations, 12 for adversary air and 10 for contracted close air support. Its main air operations base is at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California. It sends aircraft as far away as Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan.