Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) successfully completed the first contractor-owned, contractor-operated (COCO) air combat training mission with the U.S. Air Force in Europe. This training represents a milestone for contracted adversary air training outside the United States and enhances the training readiness for U.S. Air Forces in Europe/Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA). Teaming partner Top Aces, Inc., a global leader in air combat training, provided adversary air support by flying the contractor-owned, contractor-operated Douglas A-4N Skyhawks. Over a 16-month period leading up to the air combat training mission, HII architected the training program and facilitated the coordination of all operational components with European governments, regulatory agencies and USAFE-AFAFRICA. The air combat training program enables U.S. Air Forces in Europe to evaluate training effectiveness, suitability and interoperability of contractor-operated air training for U.S. forces in the European theater. COCO training support remains a key option that is cost effective for the U.S. government, while maximizing training and extending the service life of combat equipment.
Top Aces Inc. is a Montreal, Quebec-based defence contractor that offers contracted airborne training services to the Canadian Armed Forces through the Contracted Airborne Training Services (CATS) program. Top Aces operates a fleet of modernized fighter aircraft to provide Red Air threat replication, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training, practice munitions drop, air-to-air gunnery training and naval target tow profiles for the Canadian and German militaries. It also provides electronic warfare training and tactics development, and supports advanced radar trials in nationally controlled environments. All Electronic Warfare Officers and EW role equipment are provided by the 414 Electronic Warfare Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as part of the CATS contract. Canadian Armed Forces personnel are authorized to fly on board Top Aces fighter aircraft.
“Adversary training enhances the U.S. security defense posture, enables freedom of movement, fosters global security and increases combat effectiveness. HII is proud to have assisted in this ground-breaking effort in partnership with Top Aces to bring advanced COCO adversary aircraft training to USAFE-AFAFRICA’s fighter squadrons. December’s flights with the U.S. Air Force in Europe’s 480th Fighter Squadron Warhawks at Spangdahlem Air Base, were the culmination of months of work by the HII team and partner Top Aces. We presented sophisticated contractor adversary air training with advanced capabilities to a front-line fighter squadron within the unique constraints of Europe’s regulatory and airspace environment. Although this type of training has become commonplace for U.S.-based fighter units, this is the first assessment in USAFE-AFAFRICA’s European area of responsibility,” said Garry Schwartz, president of the ISR business group within HII’s Technical Solutions division.
Work was performed under the persistent multi-role operations task order for U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, issued under the one acquisition solution for integrated services contract by the U.S. General Services Administration. HII is a global engineering and defense technologies provider. With a 135-year history of trusted partnerships in advancing U.S. national security, HII delivers critical capabilities ranging from the most powerful and survivable naval ships ever built, to unmanned systems, ISR and AI/ML analytics. HII leads the industry in mission-driven solutions that support and enable a networked, all-domain force. Headquartered in Virginia, HII’s skilled workforce is 44,000 strong.