Military aviation training companies Top Aces and Blue Air Training announced the completion of a merger on 30 March.
Las Vegas-based Blue Air provides Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training for the US Air Force (USAF) and foreign air forces. JTACs are ground-based USAF personnel who direct fire support from aerial platforms.
The company is currently under contract by the US General Services Administration to provide close air support (CAS) training.
Montreal-based Top Aces offers aerial combat training services, including air-to-air, air-to-ground and air defence instruction. It is best known for providing so-called adversary air services (ADAIR), and in 2021 became the first private company to own and operate a fourth-generation fighter aircraft, after receiving US Federal Aviation Administration approval to operate a fleet of modified Lockheed Martin F-16A Fighting Falcon jets.
Top Aces is under contract with the USAF to operate an adversary air force for training purposes. The company’s US headquarters is in Mesa, Arizona.
In a joint statement from the companies, Top Aces president Russ Quinn calls the combination a “perfect fit”, noting the union will create a “one-stop solution for the most comprehensive, realistic and cost-effective training available”.
Blue Air Training founder and chief executive James Barlow says customers worldwide will benefit from having access to a single solution for ADAIR and CAS training.
Both companies will continue to operate independently under their existing names. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a company representative confirms that Blue Air Training is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Top Aces and will report to the Top Aces board of directors.
A spokesperson for Blue Air Training tells FlightGlobal that the two companies are in the process of developing integrated training solutions for their customers, but have no major changes planned. No current or pending contracts will be immediately impacted by the new structure.
The Acquisition Management Integration Center is the contracting agency for USAF Air Combat Command and oversees service contracts for both CAS and ADAIR. Blue Air Training is exclusively focused on providing JTAC training while Top Aces remains primarily focused on pursuing ADAIR opportunities.
Story updated on 1 April 2022 to include additional details, in the last three paragraphs.