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Advanced adversary training provider Top Aces Corp. announced on Aug. 16 that it has received Military Flight Release (MFR) from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for its F-16 Advanced Aggressor Fighter (AAF) aircraft.
MFR allows the company’s F-16 AAFs to begin supporting USAF flight training programs immediately.
Top Aces — which is currently the only company in the world to own and operate the F-16 commercially — refers to the F-16 AAF as “the most sophisticated adversary air platform on the market today.” The aircraft is equipped with Top Aces’ proprietary Advanced Aggressor Mission System (AAMS), which allows it to replicate near-peer adversary fighter aircraft.
“To provide effective training to pilots flying fifth-generation fighters – such as the F-22 or F-35 – we must match the capabilities of near-peer adversary fighter aircraft,” said Russ Quinn, president of Top Aces and a 26-year USAF veteran and former aggressor pilot. “By combining the power and avionics of the F-16 with AAMS, we can replicate contemporary adversary threats with accuracy and cost-efficiency. And now with MFR, Top Aces is cleared to deliver the most advanced training solution available to the USAF.”
Since the AAMS is founded on open system architecture, “it facilitates the rapid integration of sensors and functions to match evolving adversary threats,” said Top Aces in a press release.
The company’s engineers, along with their technology partner Coherent Technical Services, Inc., dedicated four years of research and development work to the AAMS. The technology was certified for use on Top Aces’ fleet of A-4N Skyhawks in 2021, and is currently in service with the German Armed Forces and other European customers for advanced airborne training. The AAMS was subsequently installed on Top Aces’ F-16A aircraft by Texas-based M7 Aerospace.
The successful initial test flight of the F-16 AAF equipped with the AAMS took place in January 2022. Since then, Top Aces has been working on upgrading the majority of its F-16 fleet with its proprietary AAMS technology.
Today, the F-16 AAF is fielded with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) air-to-air radar; Scorpion Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (HMCS); tactical datalink communications; infrared search and track (IRST) systems; advanced electronic attack pod employment; passive radio frequency (RF) detection capabilities; high-fidelity weapon simulation, which accurately replicates adversary weapons and tactics; and an array of tactical functions coordinating the above systems, which offer a wide spectrum of realistic adversary effects.