The screech of an F-16 seemed louder and higher-pitched compared to the low growl of Hollomon Air Force Base’s newest military plane, the Mirage F-1.
Hollomon’s F-16s are recently returned to the base from an adversary training exercise. On Oct. 2 they began a training run with the green and black camouflage Mirage F-1s. An adversary training run is when F-16 pilots-in-training test their skills against an opposing team of pilots.
The Mirage F-1s were from the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, or ATAC, which was awarded contracts for Mirage F-1s for the use by the U.S. Air Force.
ATAC bought 55 Mirage F-1s as part of a $6.4 billion contract between ATAC and the U.S. Air Force, said ATAC pilot Matthew “Race” Bannon.
Four Mirages F-1s are on Holloman Air Force Base now with two more expected, said Col. Mike Boger, 54th Fighter Group commander said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to have some adversary air come out and fly and us to use our instructors as instructors versus as training aids,” Boger said.
Prior to the arrival of the Mirage F-1s, F-16 adversary training involved the instructors flying F-16s to train their students on how to handle air-to-air combat.
This could be a strange scenario since both sides were flying identical planes, Boger said.
The Mirage F-1 resembles the F-16 but pilots are better able to differentiate between their team and those on the adversary team, Boger said.
“It is important when you look out the window to see a different airplane out there,” Boger said.
The Mirage F-1s also add to the quality and amount of training that F-16 pilots receive, both men said.
The training runs include long-range beyond the sightline runs and short-range dog fights.
The Mirage F-1s are piloted by ATAC pilots that are mostly retired military pilots, Boger said.
“We’re really excited to be here at Holloman,” Bannon said.
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Bannon flew F-14s and F-18s in the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years before going to work for ATAC where he has been for 19 years, he said.
Holloman Air Force Base in one of three Air Force bases to receive the Mirage F-1s. The other two are Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
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