A fleet of privately-owned fighter jets will provide aggressor training to the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets

A head-on shot of a Draken International A-4 Skyhawk.

A private defense contractor will deliver adversary support services to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Royal Canadian Air Force is looking for a company to provide adversary support services to its CF-18 Hornet pilots: called Contracted Airborne Training Services (CATS), the program will run over an initial 10-year period, followed by an optional five years.

As explained by DefenseNews.com, CATS program will supply a fleet of aircraft not only to play the “aggressor” role during Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) sessions, but also to fulfill a wide variety of other tasks such as simulating threats for ground and naval forces and training forward air controllers.

According to Pierre-Alain Bujold, spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, the federal department that coordinates military equipment purchases, the contract is due to be awarded by the end of 2016 and the winning bidder will provide aircraft and pilots, as well as maintenance crews and engineering support.

Although the Canadian-based company Discovery Air Defence, which already provides such services to Germany and Canada, has the highest chances to win the bid, the firm is facing competition from the US-based Draken International, that has teamed with CAE of Canada to offer a fleet of aircraft tailored to the training needs of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Noteworthy while Draken International intends to compete with its fleet of A-4 Skyhawks, Discovery Air Defence claims it would support CATS program with several F-16 Fighting Falcons.

But as Garry Venman, vice president of business development and government relations at Discovery Air Defence, pointed out “the real driver will be the sensor technology, not necessarily the aircraft performance.”

CATS program, whose deal is worth 1 billion USD, could pave the way for further expansion of private defense contractors in the international market.

Image credit: Draken International