Red Air: Can The Private Sector Provide Worthy Opponents To Train Military Pilots For Combat?

The US Air Force has recently announced that it intends to let a number of contracts to the private sector for the provision of “Adversary Air” (ADAIR) capability, in which aircraft simulate foreign opponents to help prepare US aircrews for the next conflict. The value of these contracts is some $6 billion over a 10-year cycle, and initially will supplement the remaining ‘in house’ capability. This seems like a lot of cash for a service that, traditionally, has been handled by the military. It raises the fundamental question of why such a key capability is being outsourced. Before I attempt to tackle this matter, some background and context is necessary.