To simulate real battle conditions, armed forces need aircraft to act as ‘‘enemy’’ targets, and this is the role of the target aircraft. During training, an unidentified or enemy aircraft such as a fighter, requires to be shot down. According to the mission, the type of aircraft may therefore vary. A combat aircraft, light ‘plane, or even an airliner can be used as a target aircraft.
These aircraft, may or may not, form part of the armed forces own fleets. In the US for example, some private companies are specialized in the supply of target aircrafts to the military. In France, civilian aircraft belonging to reservist pilots are sometimes used. These aircraft are not intended to be destroyed, however, accidents can occur. In October 2014, an Airborne Tactical Advantage Co. Hawker Hunter Mk-58, crashed during an exercise whilst serving as a target aircraft in California.