Israel’s Defense Ministry has sent four additional F-16 fighter jets to the United States to be used as aggressor forces with the Canadian Top Aces company. The fighters and equipment were loaded onto an Antonov cargo plane that landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. The delivery completes the shipment of 12 fighter planes that were sent to the US in three different shipments. A total of 29 F-16s were bought by Top Aces in a deal with the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate. The remaining 17 will be delivered later this year and will be used by the company for training purposes for the US Air Force. After arriving in the US, the F-16s underwent an overhaul to return to fully operational and airworthy status.
Top Aces buys older aircraft to act as enemy forces and provides training services for the Australian, Royal Canadian, US, and German air forces. The planes sold to Top Aces were first delivered to Israel in the 1980s and took part in the First Lebanon War and air battles against the Syrian Air Force. They also took part in Operation Opera in 1981 that successfully destroyed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. Top Aces received its FAA certification for the F16s to act as aggressor forces in May and began to test the jets in January with new capabilities that would give fifth-generation fighters “a more realistic sparring partner” for dog-fighting and other training.
The first flight of the F-16 equipped with the Advanced Aggressor Mission System took place on January 19. This sophisticated technology enables Top Aces’ aircraft to replicate the most advanced capabilities of contemporary air-to-air combat opponents. With the completion of the first test flight, the F-16 AAF will now execute a series of robust operational test activities in preparation for its entry into service with the U.S. Air Force. The air-to-air missile system (AAMS) comprises an active, electronically-scanned array radar, helmet-mounted cueing system, technical datalink, infrared search and track system, simulation of weapons systems, electronic warfare, and more. Last year, the AAMS was certified for use on Top Aces’ fleet of A-4N Skyhawks and is currently in service with the German Armed Forces and other European customers for advanced airborne training.
Top Aces provides advanced adversary (“red air”) and joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) training to the world’s leading air forces. It has the largest fleet of commercially operated fighter aircraft in active service and is the first company in the world to acquire the supersonic F-16. Top Aces’ mission-critical training enhances the operational readiness of combat forces by providing real-world experience while creating significant cost efficiencies and extending the lifecycle of military fleets. Top Aces’ highly-skilled in-house maintenance team then returned the aircraft to fully operational and airworthy status at its F-16 Center of Excellence in Mesa, Arizona. Last year marks a historic achievement as Top Aces’ first F-16 obtained FAA certification and successfully performed its initial test flight. Top Aces plans to upgrade the majority of its F-16 fleet with the ground-breaking AAMS technology within the next year.