Home Air Royal Air Force contracts Draken for Red Air services after Hawk retirement

Royal Air Force contracts Draken for Red Air services after Hawk retirement

Draken L-159E Honey Badgers in formation
Photo: Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force has awarded Draken Europe a contract for the delivery of adversary air training services as an interim solution.

Draken will use L-159E Honey Badger aircraft, ex-military fighter jets specially equipped for the adversary air training role, to ensure combat training for Royal Air Force until the Next Generation Operational Training (NGOT) program delivers the future solution.

The Royal Air Force awarded the contract to Draken after retiring the Hawk T1 jets in March this year.

The L-159E delivers a capability enhancement over the Hawk through increased endurance, an air-to-air radar and a radar warning receiver, the service said.

Known as the Interim Red Air Aggressor Training Service (IRAATS), the six-year contract with Draken Europe will see RAF fighter squadrons conduct training against fighter jets replicating the tactics, techniques and procedures of potential adversaries.

“The contract was delivered through competition, from inception to contract signature, in an exceptionally short timescale of only six months. It is timely, affordable, deliverable and provides Defence with excellent value for money,” Air Commodore Townsend comented.

This is the first such contract for medium to fast air capability placed in the UK, although a similar service is currently being delivered by Draken International to the United States Air Force.

“We’re proud to be bringing an entirely new capability to the UK defence sector – especially so at a time when geo-political events have brought into sharp relief the need for our armed forces personnel to be trained effectively to defend themselves from attack,” Draken Europe CEO Paul Armstrong said.

The contract was placed on March 28 and is for three years (1st July 2022 to 30th June 2025), with options for up to a further three years. The contract will create up to 28 additional jobs in the aviation industry and contribute towards the development of Teesside International Airport where the L-159Es will be collocated with Draken’s existing DA20 Falcon aircraft fleet.