A Brief Look at the World's Most Advanced Private Air Force and the Man behind It

Don Kirlin is the owner of Air USA, a government contractor that provides tactical aircraft services.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Don Kirlin is the owner of Air USA, the world's most advanced private air force. According to The Drive, Kirlin has been building this air force for over 30 years now.

What can a private air force be used for? Well, according to Kirlin's Air USA site, they are the leader in military combat readiness training. 


 Government contractor

"Air USA is a U.S. Government Contractor that provides an impressive array of Tactical Aircraft Services to the U. S. Defense Agencies, Defense Contractors, and Foreign Governments. Our high-performance aircraft and support team are capable of deploying and sustaining high paced operations for extended periods of time in order to meet our customers' training needs," reads Air USA's About section.

Just last month, Air USA bought up to 46 soon-to-be-retired F/A-18A/B Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force. But Air USA's story goes much further than that. Kirlin started Air USA back in 1994 when he imported his first foreign military jet and L-39 Albatross.

Since then, he has bought military planes dozens of times and now counts eight licenses with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. These enable him to own military machine guns and cannons.

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The early days

In the early 2000s, Air USA worked as a subcontractor for the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company. There, he gained the experience he needed to make Air USA.

His work is not without struggles, though. Kirlin has to balance between cost and capabilities. After all, having the most advanced private tactical aircraft could mean it is too costly for the Pentagon deals.

Kirlin tells The Drive he doesn't believe that's the case. Instead, he is focused on offering clients a big menu of choices. This is why his airforce includes ten Hawks, four L-39ZAs, and two L-39s, an impressive selection for a private firm.

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