Draken International has signed a contract to bring yet more F-16 fighter jets to its fast-expanding “red air” fleet, as the adversary air support contractor adds ex-Norwegian Vipers to the dozen former Dutch examples it acquired earlier this year. Up to 12 F-16s acquired from Norway will form part of an impressive private tactical jet air force, already one of the world’s largest, which also includes a dozen ex-South African Atlas Cheetahs, and 22 ex-Spanish Air Force Mirage F1Ms, plus assorted other subsonic jets, as well as a deep backstock of MiG-21s.
Draken took to Facebook yesterday to announce it was buying the F-16s plus “supporting assets” in a deal signed with the government of Norway but which still requires approval from U.S. and Norwegian authorities. The value of the contract has not been revealed.
the Norwegian Defense Materiel Agency provided more details of the sale, noting that the jets could be delivered to Draken as early as next year and they will support training “against American fighter aircraft.” Headquartered at Lakeland Linder International Airport, in Lakeland, Florida, the company also provides contractor adversary services within Europe.
By adding another batch of F-16s to its adversary fleet, Draken will keep pace with rival red air provider Top Aces, which is now operating the first of the 29 ex-Israeli F-16A/Bs acquired from Israel.
As well as the former Norwegian F-16s, and the 12 already acquired from the Netherlands, Draken could expand its fleet still further, with the Dutch government having announced an option for the firm to acquire another 28 examples, which are planned to be retired from service by the end of 2024.
As it stands, Draken’s fleet currently includes two supersonic fighter jets for adversary work: a dozen ex-South African Atlas Cheetahs, and 22 ex-Spanish Air Force Mirage F1Ms. One of the latter jets was lost in a fatal crash near Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, earlier this year.