Future Approaches to Red Air Delivery in NATO Air Forces in 5th Generation Fighter Training

By Lieutenant Colonel

By Lt Col



, SP


Joint Air Power Competence Centre (2020-2023)

 September 2022
Warfare Domains: Air Operations

Executive Summary

Red Air is a significant part of the NATO fighters training. However, this function is increasingly tricky for NATO countries to carry out, especially individually, due to the associated costs and the lack of materiel and personnel resources.

These costs raise the following question: How to maintain fighter proficiency while simultaneously supplying a credible Red Air training adversary? This question challenges NATO nations as they integrate 5th Generation fighter aircraft into their forces.

With reduced aircraft and pilot availability, traditional Red Air models are no longer an affordable option to effectively train NATO air forces. Furthermore, there are downsides to live-flight training that require mitigation by developing capable alternative environments and methodologies. Therefore, NATO nations must pivot their training model to incorporate a broad range of existing opportunities and emerging technologies to improve future Red Air capabilities, including in-flight training against live adversary aircraft.

To coordinate all these technologies and efforts, an International Red Air Standards Branch in close coordination with analogue National Branches and a NATO Aggressor Unit should be the core of a new training model. Furthermore, other areas such as Airborne Early Warning or Ground Controllers may be included in future studies.

This new model would provide the basis for standardization among the nations, increase the quality of training, and reduce the overhead of running a unit-level program. Furthermore, this model could solve both the knowledge and materiel gaps faced by the nations and improve tactical and strategic training.

This study intends to foster dialogue between community experts on how to provide this credible and sustainable Red Air training while offering different proposals. These proposals incorporate all available and known future technologies to improve adversary training, ultimately increasing unit combat readiness.

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Lieutenant Colonel
Joint Air Power Competence Centre (2020-2023)

LtColRafael Ichaso joined the Spanish Air ForceAcademy, San Javier, in 1993. He completed the Basic Pilot Training in 1997, and the Fighter Weapons course at the 23rd Wing in 1998. He flew the EF-18 in the 15th Fighter Wing, Zaragoza AFB in the 151 SQN from 1998 to 2007. In 2007 was assigned as an Instructor Pilot in the Fighter Weapons School, 23rd Wing, in Badajoz. In 2009 returned to the 15th Wing, serving in the 152 SQN and the 153 Conversion SQN as EF-18 Instructor. In 2008 he was promoted to Major and in 2009 was assigned to the Air Force Academy in the Academic Branch being flying instructor as well as teacher attached to the Defense University. From 2013 to 2016 he served in NATO HQ AIRCOM, Ramstein, Evaluations Division (TACEVAL) as Flying Forces Project Officer and evaluator. Following the Armed Forces Joint Staff course in Madrid, in 2017was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and he was assigned as a Staff Officer in the Spanish Air Combat Command A7 Section (Training, Exercises and Evaluations) in Torrejon AFB, prior to his assignment to the Joint Air Power Competence Centre. During this time he participated in several deployments in Aviano AFB flying over the Balkans. He has the Joint Staff Course and a Master Degree in Security and Defence Policy among others. He has flown more than 2700 hours in C-101, F-5 and EF-18.

Information provided is current as of September 2022

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