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Advanced adversary training provider Top Aces Corp. announced on Sept. 12 that it was selected under the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Combat Air Force Contracted Air Support program to provide advanced adversary air training to pilots at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida and Luke AFB in Arizona.
The five-year contract is valued at up to US$175 million, and is expected to “significantly enhance” the training of fifth-generation combat pilots.
Top Aces will begin training in support of USAF F-35A and F-22 fleets next month, utilizing its F-16 Advanced Aggressor Fighter (AAF) aircraft. The company is currently the only in the world to operate the F-16 AAF, which is an upgraded version of the aircraft with open system architecture capabilities, including Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, helmet-mounted cueing systems, tactical datalinks, and high off-boresight missile capabilities.
“This partnership will provide an unprecedented opportunity for USAF pilots to train with a team of professionals, including the most experienced former aggressor pilots and tactical controllers in the country,” said Top Aces in a press release.
“With our fleet of F-16 AAFs, we deliver a caliber of adversary air training that was previously non-existent,” added Russ Quinn, president of Top Aces Corp., who is also a USAF veteran and former aggressor pilot. “Our commitment is to deliver professional excellence and significant cost efficiencies.”
The F-16 AAF is equipped with Top Aces’ proprietary Advanced Aggressor Mission System (AAMS), which allows it to replicate near-peer adversary fighter aircraft. Since the AAMS is founded on open system architecture, “it facilitates the rapid integration of sensors and functions to match evolving adversary threats,” the company said.
Top Aces’ 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.
In August 2022, the company received Military Flight Release (MFR) from the USAF for its F-16 AAF aircraft, allowing the company to begin supporting USAF flight training programs immediately.
Today, Top Aces is known as a pioneer of adversary air training, and recently shared that it has successfully delivered more than 100,000 accident-free flight hours in the past 17 years.