As seen in the iconic 80s blockbuster movie Top Gun starring Tom Cruise, an aggressor squadron or adversary squadron is a fighter jet squadron that is trained to act as an opposing force in military war games.
These air force squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques and procedures to give a realistic simulation of air combat (as opposed to training against one's own forces). Since it is impractical to use actual enemy aircraft and equipment, surrogate aircraft (in this case a fleet of Mirage F1s) are used to emulate potential adversaries.
Two of the leading US contractors providing these specialist services that comprise the actual fleet of service-ready aircraft and the pilots, have teamed up with Paramount Aerospace for the return-to-service, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and training support for the Mirage F1 fighter fleets operated by them.
One of these strategic partners and customers, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, LLC (ATAC), recently announced that it has been awarded new contracts to provide adversary air (‘ADAIR’) pilot training to the U.S. Air Force over the course of the next 4.5 years, resulting in a significant increase in the demand for Paramount’s services and expertise.
Draken International, another Paramount Aerospace Systems strategic partner and customer, has also been selected by the U.S. Air Force to support aircrew training at three locations across the USA.
Paramount Group offers extensive capabilities on the Mirage F1, with full airframe and engine overhaul capability, as well as the ability to modernise avionics and mission systems. Paramount Aerospace Systems’ current services in the U.S. are comprised of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), the servicing of airframes and return to service (RTS) of aircraft. The company's Mirage F1 engine facility and workshop is notably the only facility of its kind presently operating internationally.
Looking to the future, Paramount’s U.S.-based subsidiary aims to expand to offering ‘Depot level (D-level)’ capabilities, providing upgrades and extensive modifications and deep level maintenance services, in order to keep aircraft operational, upgraded and relevant for many years into the future.
Paramount Aerospace Systems has quickly established itself as a reliable and highly valued Mirage F1 and legacy fighter partner in the United States. The company has instituted a world-class engine maintenance facility and workshop in Fort Worth Texas, both for its customers operating within Alliance Field and remotely from Lakeland, Florida.
ATAC’s first refurbished, supersonic, radar-equipped Mirage F1 performed its initial flight in the United States on August 22nd, 2019, then assisted by Paramount in providing Mirage F1 training. Paramount Group later provided upgrade and engineering support for partner Draken International’s first regenerated Mirage F1 maiden flight, held in Lakeland, Florida on November 19th, 2019.
Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of Paramount Group stated: “The growth and expansion of Paramount Aerospace in the United States is a proud moment for South Africa. It is prestigious and unique for South Africans to play such an important role in supporting the combat readiness of the US Air Force. This is a significant endorsement and recognition of the strategic skills and capability that we have in South Africa. Paramount Aerospace has retained the vast experience built up by the South African Air Force in Mirage F1 operations and today it is a privilege to leverage this expertise and support our partners in the United States.
“Despite this global success we are determined to ensure that South Africa remains a Mirage F1 Centre of Excellence for the global aerospace industry, building on our incredible legacy, skills and expertise. By supporting the USA we are able to preserve this important aeronautical engineering capability in South Africa and secure many high value jobs and skills.” Ichikowitz added.
Brian Greyling, CEO of Paramount Aerospace, stated: “We are excited by what we at Paramount have achieved so far, including however not limited to setting up the capabilities to provide the complete Mirage F1 solution in the United States, while ensuring both Mirage F1 airpower and an extensive, evolutionary depth of aircraft knowledge and support are made available on the ground. As our customers take on the ‘Red Air’ campaign, expected to commence shortly, it is our intention to expand on this footprint and our scope of services as a proud proponent of South African ingenuity and ultimately to further our longstanding commitment to perpetual innovation, part and parcel of our continued mission some 25 years on from inception to develop and drive our business in the United States, and around the world in support of and in tandem with our customers’ growth”.
Ivor Ichikowitz concluded: “The US programmes provide us with a strong platform to expand our capabilities into other markets around the world. I am immensely proud of the achievements of our engineering teams as they fly the flag on the global stage for South African engineering prowess, innovation and our people’s ‘can-do’ mentality”
Today, Paramount provides the only Top Gun fighter pilot training academy throughout Africa, offering training capability from ab initio to advanced supersonic fighter training.
In 2003, Paramount Group acquired the entire South African Air Force (SAAF) Mirage F1AZ fleet, along with engines, spares, simulators and training aids, with the aircraft providing an ideal solution for cost-effective, supersonic fighter capability. The company led in the modernisation of the Mirage F1M while still in Spanish Air Force military service and has since provided training and logistical support to ex-SAAF F1 aircraft exported to a number of other countries.
The company has ensured self-sufficiency in its partners' aerial defence capabilities to address what are today-asymmetrical challenges, made possible by the unrivaled expertise of teams of South Africans working alongside their US counterparts in the provision of on-site and real-time operations.