January 20, 2019

Red Air Rising

By Amy McCullough

Can contracting out the adversary air mission ease the pilot shortage and enhance combat training? An emerging industry says it can.


The Air Force is about to create a whole new industry
: private adversary air (ADAIR). As soon as February, the service will award a 10-year, up to $6 billion contract to multiple companies, changing the way fighter pilots train today—and possibly forever. While the new contractor aggressors complement, rather than replace, USAF’s two in-house aggressor squadrons, the deals could pave the way for a permanent change in approach if the program proves successful.

Using private “Red Air” contractors to supplement military training is not new. Both the Air Force and Navy have done so sparingly in the past. But USAF’s new initiative is unprecedented in scale and scope, covering adversary training at 21 bases across the United States and more than just over 50,000 hours of flight time—about 40,000-plus  hours for adversary air at 12 fighter bases and nearly 10,000 hours to help train joint terminal attack controllers at nine Army bases.

USAF will award an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, opening the door for contracts serving specific bases over the next decade.