The Air Force’s frontline fighter pilots will go up against a formidable, albeit familiar, adversary in mock combat missions with the signoff on Top Aces’ fleet of modified F-16s for Red Air operations. The Air Force granted Top Aces, which was founded by ex-Canadian fighter pilots, Military Flight Release for the fleet of Vipers the company bought from the Israeli air force when they were retired for the incoming F-35. The company has added a proprietary software package it calls the Advanced Aggressor Mission System that allows the fighter to punch above its already considerable weight to tangle with the latest and greatest in the USAF inventory.
“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.” Top Aces owns the world’s only privately operated F-16s, which are still in service with dozens of air forces including USAF.