A Draken Europe L-159E Honey Badger aircraft has delivered the first Operational Readiness Training sortie as part of the interim red air aggressor training service (IRAATS) for the Royal Air Force.
On 20 December, a Honey Badger aircraft provided threat replication to a Typhoon from 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron in the training airspace over the North Sea.
The opportunity to train against dissimilar aircraft flown by experienced pilots, and using unfamiliar tactics, is considered essential operational training for front-line squadrons, the Royal Air Force said.
The first of its kind in the UK, IRAATS will see civilian company Draken Europe deliver a medium to fast-speed aggressor training service using its fleet of civil-registered Aero Vodochody L-159Es, a Czech-built light multi-role combat training aircraft.
Draken is delivering the service as part of contract from April this year, which the Royal Air Force awarded as an interim solution until the Next Generation Operational Training (NGOT) program delivers the future solution. The interim solution is necessary after the RAF retired the Hawk T1 jets that served this purpose 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 earlier.
This sortie was the first training delivered by IRAATS, and the program will now build to full operating capability with eight L-159Es from January 2023.
“I am absolutely delighted to announce that the RAF’s exciting new ‘red air’ aggressor service has delivered its first training sortie to the combat air force. This capability will truly challenge our Combat Air pilots, training them more effectively for future operations. The contract was delivered through competition in a very short timescale, from inception to contract signature, and done so by a whole force team. It is timely, affordable, deliverable and provides defense with excellent value for money,” Air Commodore ‘Cab’ Townsend, RAF’s Senior Responsible Owner for the capability, commented.