80th Flying Training Wing

The Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) Program, established in the spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is conducted by the 80th Flying Training Wing (80 FTW) 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 80 FTW is the official USAF designation of this flying training organization, but it is better known as the ENJJPT Wing 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 Air Force Base to survey the facilities and organization of the 80 FTW, which was already conducting Undergraduate Pilot Training for the German and Dutch Air Forces. In June 1980, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown announced Sheppard's selection as the site for the proposed program, and the ENJJPT Program held its official opening ceremony Oct. 23, 1981. In 1987, the program has undergone multiple extensions, the most recent to 2016.

The ENJJPT Wing is a uniquely manned multi-national organization with a USAF wing commander and a German Air Force operations group commander in the top two leadership positions. 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 13 participating nations fill subordinate leadership positions throughout the wing. Seven nations-- Canada, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United States--provide instructor pilots based on their number of student pilots. Greece and Turkey do not have student pilots in training, but do provide one instructor pilot. Belgium, Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom are non-active signatories to the ENJJPT Program, meaning they currently do not have instructor pilots or students at ENJJPT. As an example of this totally integrated structure, an American student pilot may have a Norwegian instructor pilot, a Dutch flight commander, a Turkish section commander, a German operations officer, and an Italian squadron commander.

ENJJPT is also unique with its four distinct training programs. In addition to Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), ENJJPT also provides for its own Pilot Instructor Training (PIT--where pilots are taught to be instructor pilots), Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF), and IFF Upgrade Instructor Pilot (UIP) training. Approximately 200 student pilots earn their wings at ENJJPT annually after a 55-week, three-phased training regimen. Up to 80 new instructor pilots (IP) are trained annually and up to 115 pilots transition through IFF each year. All this training is supported by a staff of more than 1,200 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 80 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 12 July 11)