TacAir News and Views

TacAir Providing Cost-Effective Live Commercial CAS

TacAir SF-260TP Loading for Live CAS Sortie
Tactical Air Support, Inc. (TacAir) is one of a very small group of commercial air service providers now delivering light inert ordnance for DoD Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training.  We currently use the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Marchetti SF-260TP (pictured above).

The SF-260TP provides an extremely cost-effective live CAS platform, fully aerobatic and equipped with four weapons pylons.  We currently carry four Mk-76s per sortie, but are pursuing additional rack options to double that number.

We fly under Public Aircraft Operations, with approved weapons loads and release clearances directly from the manufacturer.  Our aircraft are currently cleared for ordnance operations on the Ft. Bragg ranges, and we are working to expand to other DoD ranges as well.

Normal operations for us include day and night ops, live and simulated CAS, NVG ops, IZLID / IR marker targeting, and multi-plane operations.

Please feel free to contact us if you need commercial CAS.  We can work with you on contracting details, WDZ footprints, range clearances, and matching our various platform capabilities to your requirements.


Cockpit Video of ITPS Flight in a TacAir NF-5B

The president of the International Test Pilot School (ITPS), Giorgio Clementi conducts an evaluation flight in a Tactical Air Support, Inc (TacAir) NF-5B with a TacAir instructor pilot, Will Price in the aft cockpit. The flight took place in October 2014 from TacAir’s Jacksonville facility.

Botswana Fighter Pilot Training

Tactical Air Support Inc., a Reno company that provides training and consulting for military air organizations, has begun the second, eight-week phase of training for pilots of the Botswana Air Force.
The training in the African nation includes tactical skills such as bomb and rocket weapons delivery, tactical formation, basic fighter maneuvering and fighter squadron management techniques. Click HERE to see the full article in the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.

TacAir F-5 Weapons Training with the Botswana Defense Force

Tactical Air Support, Inc. is continuing OCONUS tactical F-5 training with the Botswana Defense Force. Last week’s training was highlighted by BDU-33 and 2.75″ rocket training.

Transonic-Supersonic Qualitative Evaluation

December 2013 – Tactical Air Support, Inc. (TacAir) is contracted to support National Test Pilot School (NTPS) in Mojave, CA with pilots and a Northrop NF-5B aircraft, performing a qualitative evaluation of transonic-supersonic flight. This series of flights will demonstrate the stability and flight characteristics of the F-5 in the transonic to supersonic regime.

The primary objective of NTPS (established in 1981) is to train test pilots and flight test engineers for the U.S. and its allies. The flights that TacAir will provide are considered a vital part of the curriculum for the NTPS students.

Pasted Graphic

Aircraft, like the F-5s shown above, capable of operating over a large speed range with satisfactory stability and control characteristics have obvious tactical and logistical advantages. TacAir not only has the assets, such as F-5s, to fly in these regimes but also provides highly qualified pilots with many years of experience in the flight-test environment.
- By David Macaluso (Tactical Air Support, Inc)

Joint Strike Fighter Experimentation Support

November 2013 – Tactical Air Support, Inc. (TacAir) is contracted by Lockheed Martin Corporation to provide subject matter experts (SMEs) in support of experimentation studies for Joint Strike Fighter (F-35C) integration and interoperability with the Carrier Air Wing and Carrier Strike Group of tomorrow. The distributed Live, Virtual, and Constructive (LVC) experimentation is led and centered at Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia.
TacAir SMEs bring technical, tactical, and operational expertise to the effort – providing not only recent operational experience, but also rapid reach back to active duty tactical leaders. TacAir’s contributions lend an exceptional level of credibility and realism to experiment scenarios, and provide “apples-to-apples” comparisons with other acquisition studies.
- By Will Burney and Scott Gallagher (Tactical Air Support, Inc)

Defense Belt-tightening gets Startup off the Ground

In his successful 30-year military career, R.C. Thompson served three combat deployments and held jobs ranging from commanding officer of the Navy’s Top Gun school at Fallon to a Pentagon position working with budgets and fleet requirements as deputy director of the Navy staff. But nothing, he says, has proven more challenging than getting a small business off the ground.

Tactical Air Support, the Reno company that Thompson launched in 2006 after his retirement from the Navy, clearly is gaining altitude. Posting 60 percent annual revenue growth in each of the past three years, Tactical Air Support benefits from budget-tightening faced by the U.S. military and its allies. Headquartered at Reno-Stead Airport, the company operates a fleet of military aircraft that are used for roles such as training and development of tactics. Its advantage: Dramatically lower costs.

Thompson says his company’s costs to operate a two-seater F-5B fighter trainer — typically, about $5,000 to $6,000 an hour — save about 75 percent from the costs recorded when similar aircraft are flown by the military. That’s particularly important to defense budget planners, he says, for missions where the military pilots wouldn’t be getting much training themselves. Tactical Air Support’s aircraft and pilots are used increasingly, for instance, to act as the “adversaries” in military training exercises.

The company’s reach is global. This fall, four fighter pilots from the Botswana Defense Force completed five weeks of F-5 refresher and flight-instructor training at Tactical Air Support’s facilities north of Reno. The training, which wrapped up in mid-October, included 26 hours of ground school and cockpit drills and nine training flights. Tactical Air now is sending instructors to the African nation for the next phase of training, which includes development of tactics instructors in the Botswana Defense Force.

The company’s staff of 30 is dominated by retired instructors and commanders at Top Gun. Along with the company’s headquarters at Reno, they’re stationed close to military training facilities in locations including Southern California, North Carolina and Florida. “We have people waiting in the wings to join us,” Thompson says. “It’s a network.” And because top fighter pilots create a close-knit fraternity with few secrets, he says the company’s staff knows precisely who they want to join Tactical Air as it grows.

When they’re not flying or teaching classes in ground schools, members of the company’s staff work as consultants — writing combat manuals, managing experiments on tactics, providing expertise on new defense technology. On the ground, too, the company benefits from tightened defense budgets. “Austerity is our friend,” says Thompson. “The tougher the times, the more relevant we are.”

But even though Thompson knew from the start that the basic economics of the business made sense, he was disheartened during an early meeting to pitch Tactical Air’s services to a top Naval officer. “He told us, ‘The Navy has no requirement to save money,’” Thompson says. “We were four or five years too early.” And in a capital-intensive business — a two-seater F-5B aircraft, the cornerstone of the Tactical Air training fleet, sells for $2 million to $2.5 million each — the pains of being too early can cut deep.

Five fighters — F-5B or the Canadian CF-5D — are the center of the company’s fleet of 13 aircraft. It also includes an EMB 314 Super Tucano. Nine air forces around the world use the Brazilian-made aircraft, but Tactical Air is the only commercial operator flying it.

Thompson says that a patient private investor stood by Tactical Air through its early days and supported its executive team as they methodically built a fleet of aircraft to meet the demands of new business. Now, he says, the financial flywheel is beginning to turn and the company is gaining momentum. His expectation for the next five years? “We’re going to be a very big international company with an international reputation,” he says.

- By John Seelmeyer (jseelmeyer@nnbw.biz.)

Botswana Fighter Pilots Graduate from Reno Flight Program (KRNV TV Report)

Click on the link below to watch the video.

Training Pilots from Botswana

Click on the link below to watch a KTVN TV report on the training of the Botswana Air Defense Force pilots.

AGM-88E AARGM Block II Functional Design

October 2013 – Tactical Air Support, Inc. contracted with a large prime defense contractor to further refine the functional design of the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) Block II. AARGM provides the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Italian Air Force the latest and most advanced weapon system for engaging and destroying enemy air defenses and time-critical mobile targets.

AARGM is a supersonic, medium-range, air-launched tactical missile compatible with U.S. and allied strike aircraft, including all variants of the F/A 18, Tornado, EA-6B, EA-18G, F-16 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

- By Andrew Gamble (Tactical Air Support, Inc.)
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