Air Force chooses Top Aces for real-world training for combat pilots in dogfighting and adversary tactics

Oct. 20, 2022
Top Aces uses F-16A fighters, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk attack jets, Dornier Alpha Jet trainers, and Learjet 35A business jets for combat pilot training.

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. – U.S. Air Force air combat experts needed fast-speed adversary air training for Air Force combat pilots. They found their solution from Top Aces Inc. in Mesa, Ariz.

Officials of the Air Force Air Combat Command Acquisition Management and Integration Center at Langley AFB, Va., announced $21.5 million order to Top Aces on Tuesday for contractor-owned, contractor-operated adversary air services.

Top Aces will provide advanced airborne training in air-to-air combat to the Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Adversary training helps combat improve their dogfighting skills, which the military calls air combat maneuvering (ACM).

Eglin is home to the Air Force 96th Test Wing, 33rd Fighter Wing, and the 919th Special Operations Wing. Luke is home to the Air Force 56th Fighter Wing, the largest fighter wing in the world and the Air Force’s primary active-duty fighter pilot training wing. The 56th graduates more than 400 pilots and 300 air controllers each year.

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Luke has 24 squadrons that fly the F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter and the F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighter. The base is becoming the Air Force's primary pilot training center for the F-35A combat jet.

The 56th Fighter Wing also oversees the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field in Arizona, and is steward of the Barry M. Goldwater Range -- a military training range spanning more than 1.7 million acres of Sonoran desert.

In February 2021 Top Aces won an Air Force contract to begin gathering F-16 fighters at the company’s F-16 Center of Excellence in Mesa, Ariz., to start adversary training for the Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Department of Defense.

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The company's upgraded fleet of F-16s use active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, helmet-mounted cueing system, tactical datalink, and high-off-boresight missile capability for adversary air training.

Top Aces specializes in air combat training by providing adversary air services, which the company provides to the Air Force, as well as to German and Canadian armed forces.

Top Aces uses the Lockheed Martin F-16A jet fighter, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk light-attack jet, the Dornier Alpha Jet light-attack aircraft and jet trainer, and the Bombardier Learjet 35A business jet to carry out combat pilot training.

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Top Aces offers advanced capabilities for adversary air training, including a proprietary Advanced Aggressor Mission System (AAMS) AESA radar and infrared search-and-track (IRST) systems on a variety of aircraft.

The AAMS provides its host aircraft with simulation of advanced capabilities for modern-day opponents in air-to-air combat. The company provides AAMS missions to Germany and has demonstrated this capability to other potential customers. Top Aces also provides joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) training.

On this order Top Aces will do the training at Eglin and at Luke, and should be finished by February 2023. For more information contact Top Aces online at, or the Air Combat Command Acquisition Management and Integration Center at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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