In 2017, Draken International announced the procurement of 22 Mirage F1M and F1B fighter jets. Previously flown by the Spanish Air Force, these aircraft will join Draken’s existing fleet of radar-equipped Douglas A-4K Skyhawks and Aero Vodochody L-159E “Honey Badger” fighter jets to support Draken’s Nellis AFB ADAIR contract which provides adversary training for the USAF Weapons School, Red Flag exercises, operational test support, RTU support, and Combat Air Forces abroad.
Last week, Draken unveiled the first of its Mirage F1 at the company’s Lakeland, Florida facility.
Here are the first photographs:
The aircraft sports a digitized desert camouflage that is inspired by the modern digital patterns also sported by the Russian aircraft but also reminds of the color scheme of the South African Air Force Mirage F1CZ.
The upgraded Mirage F1s are high-end adversaries that can be extremely useful for training both 4th and 5th generation fighter pilots. These fast combat-proven jets bring supersonic speed and good radar to the fight, representing a further enhancement to the capabilities offered in the air-to-air scenario (and not only in that one).
The role of Aggressors is to train fighter pilots in the most realistic way: the must-fight aircraft that are as analogous as possible to the real threat.
In the U.S., both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy have their own aggressors/adversary units that replicate paint schemes, markings, insignas and, above all, the tactics, used in combat by their near-peer adversaries:
The USAF has the F-16s of the 64th and 18th AGRS (Aggressor Squadron), respectively at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and Eielson AFB, Alaska
The U.S. Navy’s adversary component is provided by the VFC-13 Fighting Saints and their F-5N Tigers II (ex-Swiss Tigers) in “Rotten Banana” and “Mig-28” schemes, and by the dedicated reserve adversary squadrons such the VFC-12 and VFA-204 with their F/A-18C Legacy Hornets (A, B, A+, C variants) respectively based at NAS Oceana and NAS New Orleans
VMFT-401 is the United States Marine Corps’ only adversary squadron flying the F-5N at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.