The Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) will soon start flying its fleet of Mirage F1 fighters, refurbished with assistance from Paramount Group company Paramount Aerospace, under a $240 million US Air Force adversary air training contract.
ATAC on 27 July said it had been selected to provide two US Air Force bases with adversary air live training under the Combat Air Forces (CAF) Contracted Air Support (CAS) programme. Under the awards, worth up to a combined $240 million, ATAC will provide adversary air live training to pilots at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, and Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The combined awards provide for over 3 000 sorties per year for up to 4.5 years, which will be provided by ATAC’s fleet of Mirage F1 fighter aircraft and are expected to commence around the third quarter of 2020.
“The awards are part of an initial round of five operating locations the Air Force has selected under the CAF CAS programme, with the Air Force stating its intention to contract for such services at up to 22 operating locations: 12 for adversary air and 10 for contracted close air support,” ATAC said.
“ATAC is thrilled to have been selected to provide adversary training at Luke and Holloman Air Force Bases, enabling us to continue our excellence in providing training to US and allied pilots,” said Scott Stacy, ATAC General Manager. “With additional ATAC F1s and pilots coming online, we are well positioned to expand our flight operations and provide adversary training at additional bases and locations, as needed.”
ATAC’s first refurbished Mirage F1 performed its initial flight in the United States on 22 August 2019. The company acquired 63 ex-French Air Force Mirage F1s – of these, 32 of these are in good condition and can be restored to flying status with little effort. The other 31 need major work to be restored to flight, or are suitable for spare parts.
ATAC acquired the F1s specifically for the US Air Force’s adversary air training programme. The company was assisted by Paramount in providing Mirage F1 training. ATAC’s Mirages received several upgrades for US operations, including a new GPS, air-to-air TACAN, new radios, and a new attitude indicator. They will be able to carry an electronic warfare training pod, captive air-to-air missiles, chaff and flares.
Paramount Group in October 2017 announced it had acquired four ex-French Air Force Mirage F1Bs from the French government “to enhance its pilot training capabilities”. The company said its subsidiary Paramount Aerospace Systems would use the twin-seat aircraft as part of its pilot and maintenance technician training services.
Paramount Group is no stranger to the Mirage F1, as in 2003 the South African Air Force put 21 Mirage F1 aircraft up for disposal by way of Armscor and Paramount subsequently purchased the entire Mirage F1 package, including airframes, spares and support equipment in 2006. Paramount Aerospace has sold F1s to Congo Brazzaville and Gabon.
Paramount said it has extensive capability on the Mirage F1 with full airframe and engine overhaul capability, as well as the ability to upgrade, modernise avionics and mission systems.
Paramount Aerospace still has at least half a dozen ex-SAAF F1s. It also uses Mirage III, Impala and SF260 aircraft for pilot training from its facilities at Polokwane.
Paramount has also assisted Draken International get its ex-Spanish Air Force Mirage F1Ms airworthy. They will also be used for adversary air training by the US Air Force. Draken International also acquired 12 ex-South African Air Force Cheetah jets for training in the United States.