U.S. Air Force creating F-35 Aggressor Squadron for Preparing 5th Generation fighter jets Pilots for the Next War

U.S. Air Force creating F-35 Aggressor Squadron for Preparing 5th Generation fighter jets Pilots for the Next War

The United States Air Force is reactivating the 65th Aggressor Squadron (65th AGRS) at Nellis Air Force Base as part of a larger initiative to improve training for fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

To support this requirement, the Air Force decided to create a fifth-generation aggressor squadron at Nellis AFB and move nine non-combat capable F-35A aircraft from Eglin AFB, Florida, to the squadron.

“Nellis Air Force Base looks forward to reactivating the 65th Aggressor Squadron with the F-35A. This added capability will enhance the already robust adversary replication provided to U.S. and partner nation Air Forces through multiple training and exercise scenarios.”

Aircraft transferring from Eglin AFB to Nellis AFB will not occur until newly produced aircraft arrive at Eglin AFB to replace them. New aircraft are planned to arrive at Nellis AFB beginning in early 2022.

The 65th AS, which previously flew F-15 Eagle aircraft, was inactivated in September 2014.

U.S. Air Force creating F-35 Aggressor Squadron for Preparing 5th Generation fighter jets Pilots for the Next War
An interesting look at an F-35A in a dark charcoal Chinese aggressor scheme. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force, 57th Wing Commander Facebook Page and wc via Wikimedia Commons

The Air Force will also assign two F-35A aircraft from Edwards AFB, California, to Nellis AFB to join the 24th Tactical Air Support Squadron. The 24th TASS is an F-16 Fighting Falcon squadron whose primary function is supporting and performing close-air support training. Introducing the F-35As from Edwards AFB will allow additional training for the F-35As as close-air support assets.

The action came after Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command commander, recommended improving training for fifth-generation fighter tactics development and close-air support by adding F-35s to complement the fourth generation aircraft currently being used.

“Aggressor squadrons have been honing the skills of Air Force pilots since the early 1970s,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “They provide a dose of realism in air exercises and their training value is crucial. These F-35 aggressor aircraft will keep us ahead of adversaries for years to come.”

An aggressor squadron or adversary squadron is a squadron that is trained to act as an opposing force in military wargames. Aggressor squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures to give a realistic simulation of air combat.


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