Why F-5s Beat Out F-16s For The Navy’s Latest Commercial Aggressor Contract

The Government Accountability Office recently announced it had rejected a protest from the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, or ATAC, over a U.S. Navy multi-million dollar contract award for ?red air? aggressors that went to its less established competitor Tactical Air Support, Inc., or TacAir. The supporting documentation offers extremely interesting insights into the requirements the service had asked of prospective private contractors and the capabilities those firms offered. The information is especially enlightening as the U.S. Air Force is likely taking similar factors into account as they consider bids for their own massive adversary support deal.

GAO only posted its decision online in November 2018, despite having reached its conclusion on Sept. 28, 2018. The decision has been ?subject to a GAO Protective Order? and now publicly available in a redacted form. Under the contract, worth $118.9 million over the next five years, TacAir will support the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) and the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, better known as Topgun, both of which are located at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon in Nevada. They will also provide aggressor duties for carrier air wing workups which happen a few times throughout the year. A fleet of at least five modified F-5AT jets will fly a combined total of approximately 1,700 hours annually under the fixed-price deal.