The Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, established in the spirit of NATO, is conducted by the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. ENJJPT is the world's only multi-nationally manned and managed flying training program chartered to produce combat pilots for NATO. The 80th FTW is the official U.S. Air Force designation of this flying training organization, but it is better known as ENJJPT by its members.
In 1973, the rapidly rising cost of pilot training and the need to improve interoperability of NATO air forces led a group of European nations to examine the feasibility of conducting a consolidated undergraduate flying training program. While pursuing this initiative, the participating countries also hoped to solve other problems such as predominantly poor weather conditions and restricted airspace, which impacted the flying training programs of many NATO air forces.
In 1974, the United States joined the working group and, in addition to the United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey and Canada, proposed a plan to host a joint undergraduate pilot training program. After a thorough review of all the proposals, it was agreed that the United States could offer the best combination of good flying weather, adequate training airspace, existing facilities and growth potential to accommodate proposed annual requirements. Consequently, in 1978, the United States was formally selected to host the ENJJPT program for 10 years as a short term solution, while studies on relocation to a European base continued.
A multi-national working group visited Sheppard AFB to survey the facilities and organization of the 80th FTW, which was already conducting undergraduate pilot training for the German and Dutch air forces. In June 1980, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown announced the selection of Sheppard as the site for the proposed program, and the ENJJPT Program held its official opening ceremony Oct. 23, 1981. In 1987, the program was extended to 1989, and in 1989, the program was again extended to 2005. As of 2016, the program added Romania as its 14th partner and has been extended through 2026.
The ENJJPT is a uniquely manned multi-national organization with a USAF wing commander and vice commander and an operations group commander in the top three leadership positions. The OG commander is based on country participation. Command and operations officers' positions in the flying training squadrons rotate among the participating nations, while the commander of the 80th Operations Support Squadron is always from the USAF. Additionally, officers from all 14 participating nations fill subordinate leadership positions throughout the wing. Five nations -- Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and the United States -- provide instructor pilots based on their number of student pilots. Canada, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey do not have student pilots in training, but do provide one instructor pilot. As an example of this totally integrated structure, an American student pilot may have a Belgian instructor pilot, a Dutch flight commander, a Turkish section commander, an Italian operations office, and a German squadron commander.
ENJJPT is also unique with its four distinct training programs. In addition to Undergraduate Pilot Training, ENJJPT also provides for its own Pilot Instructor Training (a program that teaches pilots to be instructor pilots), Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, and IFF Upgrade Instructor Pilot training. About 200 student pilots earn their wings at ENJJPT annually after a 55-week, three-phased training regimen. About 80 new instructor pilots are trained annually and up to 150 pilots transition through IFF each year. All this training is supported by a staff of more than 1,400 military, civilian and contract personnel employing 201 T-6A, and T-38C training aircraft.
The benefits of the ENJJPT Program are many -- lower cost, better training environment, enhanced standardization and interoperability, to name a few. Another important aspect of ENJJPT is the bond of friendship and respect developed among all participants in the 80th FTW. The student pilots and staff instructors of today will be the leaders of NATO's air forces of tomorrow. Having trained together, they will be much better prepared to fight and win together when the need ever arises.
(Current as of July 2017)