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Draken Europe awarded interim ‘Red Air' training contract for UK

Draken Europe is to provide an Interim Red Air Aggressor Training Service for UK Typhoon and Lightning (pictured) pilots. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted Draken Europe to provide an Interim Red Air Aggressor Training Service (IRAATS) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN).

Announced on 8 April, the IRAATS award will see Aero L-159E Honey Badger aircraft flown against front-line Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning squadrons for three years from 1 July.

As noted in the announcement, the L-159Es will be flown by experienced ex-military fast-jet pilots regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, replicating the tactics, techniques, and procedures of potential adversaries.

The L-159E takes over this role from the BAE Systems Hawk T1, which was retired from RAF and RN service on 31 March. “The L-159E delivers a capability enhancement over the Hawk through increased endurance, an air-to-air radar, and a radar warning receiver,” the MoD said.

This is the first contract for medium to fast air capability placed in the UK, and follows a similar model that Draken International is delivering to the US Air Force.

The contract includes options for up to a further three years to run through to the establishment of a replacement capability provided by the Next Generation Operational Training (NGOT) programme.

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