One of Draken Europe’s L-159E jets flew a sortie over the North Sea to provide live threat replication against one of the Royal Air Force (RAF)’s Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft. This marked the first occasion that Draken Europe have provided this agile aggressor training capability using L-159E platform – and a first for the United Kingdom. Honey Badger jets will fly regularly against the RAF as aggressors under the new Interim Red Air Aggressor Training Service (IRAATS) contract, the first-ever outsourced medium-to-fast Red Air service to be delivered to the Combat Air Force. The service represents a significant training capability upgrade that will increase the quality of operational training through improving the currency, capability and survivability of the RAF’s Lightning and Typhoon fighter pilots. It will play a critical part in sustaining the UK’s Combat Air capability.
“Our teams in the UK and the US have been working incredibly hard to bring these highly capable aircraft to Teesside, and it is hugely rewarding for all of us at Draken to see the L-159s performing their role in a service that will now build rapidly over the coming months. We take great pride in the work that we do training the UK’s frontline forces to defend themselves from attack – it’s an important role, a challenging one and a task that we take seriously,” said Paul Armstrong ACIS.
The arrival of these Czech-built AERO Vodochody AEROSPACE a.s. L-159E aircraft represents the culmination of many months of dedication and energy across our whole business. In the days ahead, the fleet will grow further as more of these fantastic agile jets cross the Atlantic from Draken US. Their support and the backing of a raft of industry and government partners has been central to the realisation of this endeavour. Bringing the L-159E jets across from the US to the UK has seen us invest in the construction of substantial new facilities at Teesside International Airport, the ongoing recruitment of new fast-jet pilots, ground crew and operational staff. Draken Europe team have undertaken months of planning and liaison with the aircrafts’ manufacturer Aero Vodochody Aerospace and with industry partners and regulatory authorities.
Draken International, LLC is an American provider of tactical fighter aircraft for contract air services including military and defense industry customers. The firm is based at the Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, Florida and also has an operating base at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Draken offers airborne adversary support (Red Air), Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), Close Air Support (CAS), flight training, threat simulation, electronic warfare support, aerial refueling, research, and testing services to the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. defense contractors and aerospace firms, provided by a fleet of former military aircraft. In September 2020 Draken International purchased Cobham Aviation Services based in Bournemouth, UK, and renamed it Draken Europe. Draken Europe fly a range of aircraft, with their largest fleet being heavily modified Dassault Falcon 20s, fitted with a range of equipment to provide Operational Readiness Training.