Aviation lovers get goosebumps with the idea of a private air force. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a few fighter jets that you could take out for a spin whenever you felt like it?
Well, this man from the United States owns the world’s most advanced private air fighter jet collection. Don Kirlin’s company, Air USA, recently bought 46 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18 Hornets. Air USA pilots work as the bad guys for hire, for training and development, to replicate potential enemy threats to the US Air Force.
A renowned name in the adversary air support market worldwide, Don Kirlin purchased his first foreign military aircraft – L-39 Albatross – back in 1994 and later went on to buy the first-ever private Mig 29 Fulcrum. With multiple licenses, his company can own and fire cannons and military machine guns.
36 out of these 46 F/A-18 Hornets are flying today however, these are going to be replaced by F-35A Joint Strike Fighter by 2021.
Kirlin is hoping to put all of F/A-18 spare parts inventory and test equipment – valued at over $1 billion – to good use by bringing all the 46 jets back into service.
These fourth-generation fighters, which will make up at least three full-fledged squadrons, will be deployed across key bases in the US, giving the trainer pilots a very tough time as part of their air-to-air combat training.
These are equipped with bolt-on Elta EL-L/8222 electronic warfare pod, which are standard modular self-protection jamming systems going on around the globe, AN/APG-73 radar, thus giving the jets an ability to jam and engage simultaneously. The other features include:
- Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-28 LITENING advanced targeting pods
- Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS)
- Internal M61 20mm Vulcan cannon
Air USA’s fleet currently comprises of the following:
- 10 Hawks
- 4 L-39ZAs
- 2 L-39s
- 5 PC-9 Turboprop Trainers
- 17 Highly-modified Cessna T337 Turbo Skymasters
- 10 F-5E Tiger IIs
- 4 MiG-29 Fulcrums
- 46 F/A-18 Hornets
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