Draken International is a relativly new company in the growing business of providing tactical fighter jets for different training and support missions for the military. Homebased at Lakeland-Linder Regional airport between Tampa and Orlando in central Florida this company showed extensive growth during the last two years. It operates out of a huge 100000+ square feet hangar at the south site of the airport. Besides for the obvious maintenance work the hangar is used as storage space for an imense inventory of spare parts for the aging jets. Currently Draken International operates A-4 Skyhawk jets in different versions which have e.g. been operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force before. The most recent examples were bought from BAE Systems which operated them on contract for the German Luftwaffe at Wittmund in northern Germany. A fleet of about 25 ex Polish Air Force Mig-21s belong to Draken Internationals fleet as well as MB-339s, L39s, L-159s recently bought from the Czech Air Force and T-33 aircraft.
With this large fleet of jets Draken offers support for Air to Air, Air to Ground, Fleet Missile defence and even Air to Air refuelling which might be quite unique throughout the community.
The company is also known in the airshow circuit for its Black Diamond Jet Team which flew 2 Mig-17s along the L-39 aircraft in its high times. Unfortunately for the fans Draken is intending to scale back on its airshow operations to concentrate more on the military part.
Just to give an impression on the scale of operations, during our visit to Lakeland the company flew 92 missions a week which is quite impressive and Draken seems to be able to fly more missions than some smaller national air arms are able to fly.
Not all missions are flown out of Lakeland. Partly because of noise concerns some missions launch out of the nearby McDill AFB and other bases around the country.
We would like to thank CEO Jared Isaacman and Sean Gustafson for their assistance.