Tag Archives: DenelCheetah

Joe Ford joins Draken International as Chief Executive Officer

Las Vegas, NV – The Board of Directors of Draken International, LLC has elected Joseph “Joe”Ford as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Ford will also serve as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.


Ford previously served as President, DynAviation at DynCorp International. At DynAviation, Ford was responsible for all aspects of the segment’s profit and loss performance with functions including operations, supply chain management, finance, quality assurance, human resources, contracts and internal and external business development.


Ford will succeed Jared Isaacman who has served as Draken’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer since 2011. Isaacman will become the non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors and will assist Ford through the transition.

Mirage F1B


“During a period of tremendous growth for our company and the commercial adversary air industry, there is no better person to lead Draken International,” stated Isaacman. “After serving
his country with distinction for 25 years and growing defense companies that support the U.S. military, Joe has the leadership, strategic vision and record of execution to fly Draken to new heights. His insight for how to apply modernization to our comprehensive fleet of fighters will prove beneficial and is exactly what Draken needs as the company enters its next
chapter of expanded growth.”


“I am beyond thrilled to join the Draken family,” stated Ford. “I understand the need to provide the U.S. military aviation community with the readiness it needs while making every taxpayer dollar go further. Draken is the best in the business and I am honored to have Jared and the Board’s support as we remain focused on supporting our nation’s military aviators every day.”
Before his career in the private sector, Ford had a distinguished military career, retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel in January of 2007 as the commander of the 401st Air Expeditionary Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Other roles during his military career include commander of the
18th Operations Group at Kadena Air Base, Japan and commander of the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Mr. Ford is a combat veteran with four fighter deployments to
the Middle East. His aviation career includes over 4,000 hours in aircraft including the F-4C/D,A-7D, F- 117, F-16A/B/C/D, F-15C/D, HH-60, E-3 and KC-135R.

Aero L159s


“Draken is the kind of mission driven company with which we like to partner,” said Todd Hirsch, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone Tactical Opportunities and a member of the company’s board. “A decade ago, Draken was an idea – that commercial adversary air support
can improve readiness and reduce sustainment and training costs for the U.S. Armed Forces.


Today, Draken is the industry’s leading provider of military aviation readiness training,completing over 20,000 flight hours with a fleet of more than 100 mission capable aircraft.

Ex South African Air force 2 Squadron Cheetah C (375) recently took to the skies after 18 years on the ground 2 weeks ago at Denel Aeronautics base at OR Tambo International Airport,South Africa.This will also be one of Drakens assets!Picture by Casper van Zyl

Under Joe’s leadership, it will continue to set the standard in airborne adversary support, flight training, threat simulation, electronic warfare support, research, testing, as well as other missions
uniquely suited to their fleet of aircraft.” Hirsch continued: “On behalf of the rest of the board and all our employees, we thank Jared for

creating this industry leading firm and guiding it so well. We are grateful to continue to have him as a partner.”

Mirage F1M


The board also elected Bill “Sweet” Tart as Chief Operating Officer. Sweet joins Draken from DynAviation where he was Senior Vice President, Business Development. Prior to his private sector career, Sweet served in the United States Air Force for 25 years, retiring in 2014 as the Director of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Division at the Pentagon. He previously served as the commander of the 432nd Operations/Expeditionary Operations Group at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada and the senior military assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Sweet is a Risner Trophy winner for outstanding performance at USAF Weapons
School.

Ex South African Air force Cheetah C serial (370) “Vlaggie” one of twelve Cheetahs that have been sold to Draken International from Denel Aeronautics.
Dassualt Mirage F1B, recently Draken got a handful of ex Mirage F1s from various air forces around the world that recently retired them for use.

Draken International is the world’s largest operator of ex-military aircraft. With over 100 tactical fighter aircraft incorporating modern 4th generation capabilities, the company is the partner of choice to support the growing global demand for commercial air services. Draken
employs world class, military trained fighter pilots including USAF Weapons School Instructors,Fighter Weapons School Graduates, TOP GUN Instructors, Air Liaison Officers, and FAC-A Instructors. In 2019, funds affiliated with Blackstone Tactical Opportunities completed a strategic investment into Draken International to facilitate the next phase of modernization and growth. 

Denel Cheetah C “375” flies again after 18 years!

October 9th 2020,after sitting on the ground for 18 years, Cheetah C “375” took to the skies again over OR Tambo international Airport in Kempton- Park this past week.

The aircraft was flown by Denel fixed wing test pilot Ivan “Viking” Pentz,who has a number of flying hours on both the Cheetah B,D,D2 and C models.He has also flown the Hawk MK120,Mirage F1,The AHRLAC and many more!

Denel Cheetah B “Bandit”

Extremely high quality restoration to flight work by Denel. After a few test flights, it’ll be boxed up and sent to Draken International in Florida as said by African Defence Review Darren Olivier.

DRAKEN INTERNATIONAL HAS CREATED A NEW STANDARD IN AVIATION SERVICE CAPABILITIES FOR ALL BRANCHES OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND ALLIED MILITARIES GLOBALLY. WITH A FLEET OF 150 TACTICAL FIGHTER AIRCRAFT, DRAKEN OWNS AND OPERATES THE WORLD’S LARGEST COMMERCIAL FLEET OF TACTICAL EX-MILITARY AIRCRAFT.

DRAKEN SUPPORTS MILITARY TRAINING OBJECTIVES AROUND THE GLOBE, PROVIDING TREMENDOUS COST SAVINGS OVER THE USE OF TRADITIONAL MILITARY FIGHTER ASSETS. AS AN ORGANIZATION, WE ARE UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO ANSWER THE GROWING DEMAND FOR CONTRACT AIR SUPPORT.

The Atlas Cheetah was a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation now known as Denel Aeronautics. It was developed at the behest of, and principally operated by, the South African Air Force until the aircraft were retired from SAAF service to be replaced by the SAAB Gripen in 2008.

Pictures by Casper van Zyl

Draken International Goes Supersonic Against The U.S Air Force

Draken International, the global leader in advanced adversary air services, has successfully commenced supersonic radar equipped F1M missions in support of USAF combat readiness training at Nellis AFB. The fully modernized Mirage F1Ms, predominately flown by the Spanish Air Force in the past, now challenge US and coalition 4th & 5th Generation fighters over the skies of the Nevada Test and Training Range in the development of warfighter’s tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Mirage F1M

Draken remains the only commercial air service provider to have purchased, imported, certified, and executed sustained flight operations with threat-representative fighter aircraft. These critical capabilities inherent to the Draken F1 fleet, are essential for supporting the Nellis ADAIR II contract, which provides adversary training for the prestigious USAF Weapons School, Red Flag exercises, operational test support, Formal Training Unit support, and Combat Air Forces abroad.

Mirage F1M

Over the past two years, the collaborative efforts between Draken International and Paramount Aerospace Systems has resulted in the reassembly, restoration, and certification of the fleet of Mirage F1s. This extensive project was accomplished at Draken’s maintenance facility in Lakeland, FL. Draken has also begun the acceptance of the fleet of Denel Cheetah’s from the South African Air Force; a 4th Generation supersonic radar-equipped fighter that joins Draken’s operational fleet.

Ex South African Airforce 2 Squadron Cheetah C

Sean Gustafson, VP of Business Development at Draken stated, “Draken is fully committed to enhancing adversary support for the USAF. These fleets of supersonic assets highlight the dedication to fulfilling combat readiness training objectives at Nellis and Air Force bases across the U.S. Our ever-growing fleet of advanced fighters enrich our capabilities and challenge Airmen, Sailors, and Marines alike.”

Mirage F1B

Draken International is the world’s largest operator of ex-military aircraft. The company is based out of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, FL. The organization sets a new standard in airborne adversary support, flight training, threat simulation, electronic warfare support, aerial refueling, research, testing, as well as other missions uniquely suited to their fleet of aircraft. With over 100 tactical fighter aircraft incorporating modern 4th generation capabilities, the company is ideally positioned to answer the growing global demand for commercial air services. Draken employs world class, military training fighter pilots including USAF Weapons School Instructors, Fighter Weapons School Graduates, TOP GUN Instructors, Air Liaison Officers, and FAC-A Instructors, For additional information, visit http://www.drakenintl.com.

Denel Cheetah B “Bandit” Flies again!

What was a very common sight over the skies of the Limpopo Province at Airforce Base Makhado was the Denel Cheetah variant’s from both the C model which was the single- seat interceptor and the dual version with pilot and instructor or pilot and strike navigator.

Denel Cheetah B on final approach

After the retirement of the Cheetah from South African Airforce service a lot of examples were sent back to denel and some sold to Equador and now recently a North American company by the name of Draken,which uses ex military fighter aircraft as aggressors to US Airforce fighter types.

Famous dogtooth on the nose of Cheetah b 861

The 3rd December saw “Bandit” Cheetah B 861 take to the skies over OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton parking routing out towards Airforce Base Waterkloof for two tests flights and more to come as we get to the end of year 2019.

The aircraft has not flown for some months now,but it is great to see an ex SAAF Aircraft back in the skies again.We hope to see her at airshows as we near the 2020 airshow season and SAAF 100th Birthday Celebrations!

Cheetah B Former 2 Squadron Aircraft

The aircraft was flown by Denel Chief Test Pilot, Ivan “Viking’ Pentz, Ivan is no stranger to flying fighters as he has flown the Impala MK1,Impala MKII,HawkMK120,Cheetah C, Cheetah D,Mirage F1,AHRLAC,C130 and many more!

This particular Cheetahs Colour Scheme was unveiled and displayed at the SAAF Museum Airshow in 2003.Bandit was also used during the 2V1 Dogfight demo between two Cheetah Cs.

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