The First Privately-Owned F-16 Fighter Jet Takes Off

The owners of the second-hand jet intend to use it as a training aircraft.
Fabienne Lang

For the first time ever, a private adversary firm just flew a second-hand F-16A/B fighter jet, reported The Drive.

The company in question, Top Aces, only acquired its first fleet of F-16 fighters in late January at its F-16 Center of Excellence in Mesa, Arizona. The fleet is part of its agreement with the U.S. Air Force to provide adversary training for the Air Force, the Navy, and the Department of Defense (DoD), as was detailed in a DoD statement.

This "first" flight marked the first time a fourth-generation fighter jet has been flown by a private adversary support firm, per The Drive. 

Who is Top Aces?

The company in question provides "advanced airborne training to the world's leading air forces," as its website states. Formed by a group of former fighter pilots, Top Aces is one of the companies in the world that owns the most privately-owned operational fighter aircraft. 

Its training services include advanced adversary, air-defense, and Joint Terminal Attack Controller to major air forces around the globe. 

Alongside a number of other companies, Top Aces was awarded multiple awards for "indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Combat Air Force contracted air support operations," read the DoD's statement.

The awarded contractors are set to provide "contracted air support services for realistic and challenging advanced adversary air threats and close air support threats," among other requirements. The contract is set to go on until October 29, 2024. 

The F-16 flight

The recent F-16 jet flight that Top Aces was in charge of lasted approximately an hour, reported The Drive, and took off from the company's home base at Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona. 

"Billy Bob" was at the helm, and during the flight, the F-16 carried out a number of checks before landing safely back down to Earth. 

It'll be interesting to see what else takes place throughout these trainings and checks, but they'll hopefully lead to a stronger, readier Air Force.

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