‘Red Air’ provider Draken Europe has announced that, after a strenuous period of preparations, one of their Aero Vodochody L-159E ‘Honey Badgers’ was granted a Permit To Fly by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority.
This L-159E is the former N159EM (156034) and was registered as G-DKNA on 1 July 2022. It wears a distinctive arctic camouflage paint scheme.
Three other L-159Es are ready to join G-DKNA to start operations from their home base, Durham-Teesside International Airport, UK. These were registered as G-DKNB (156019), G-DKNC (156020) and G-DKND (156039) in the British register on 27 October 2022.
The aircraft are registerd to FR Aviation, trading as Draken Europe, Bournemouth International Airpark, Hurn, Christchurch.
On 2 November the final two L-159Es for Draken Europe, N259EM and N269EM, crossed the Atlantic to join the quartet already present in the UK. This duo will be British registered at a later date.
The operations provided by Draken are Royal Air Force’s Interim Red Air Aggressor Training Service (IRAATS), readying front line armed forces personnel for battle.
The service represents a significant training capability upgrade for the RAF and will be delivered using a privately owned fleet of jets, approved under civil regulations by the CAA, to fly in UK airspace.
Bringing the L-159E ‘Honey Badger’ to the UK has necessitated Draken to invest in the construction of new facilities to house them and recruitment of new staff across multiple disciplines.
It also took months of planning and liaison with the manufacturer AERO Vodochody, other industry partners and authorities. All this work was supported by Draken USA, the CAA, local government, the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the UK Ministry of Defense.
The L-159Es concerned are:
|UK registration||construction number||(former) US registration|
|not known yet||156030||N259EM|
|not known yet||156029||N269EM|
Photo: Draken Europe