Training program has only begun to fly

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeffrey Kendall
  • 80th Flying Training Wing commander
Incredible! It's hard to believe that the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program celebrates its Silver Anniversary this year.

Don't misinterpret my amazement as surprise that the program has lasted for 25 years. Rather, I am astounded at how time flies when riding on the wings of success. Graduating in Class 84-08, I can still remember my days as a student pilot here at Sheppard as if it were yesterday and not just the early years of a visionary new training program.

Although a remarkable feat for the world's only internationally-run program to be this successful, it has been the dedication of the men and women who have walked the halls of the 80th Flying Training Wing that has made this truly a success story.

It all began in the late '70s when our NATO partners were looking for a place to uniformly train their pilots efficiently and effectively. Two-and-a-half decades later, the program they envisioned continues to flourish. Since its inception, the program has graduated over 5,400 new pilots for the NATO Alliance, many of whom now serve in positions of increased responsibility within their respective Air Forces and nations.

ENJJPT's continued accomplishments would not be possible it wasn't for the unequalled support of our surrounding community, specifically those individuals who have volunteered to be country sponsors for our international guests and partners. With your help, they have been able to make a transition from the culture they are used to and become part of the customary "I've never met a stranger" style of Texas.

"Y'all" have provided our international friends with a home away from home in a sponsor program I can best describe as the jewel of ENJJPT. You have opened your homes and hearts to ENJJPT wing members for years and I cannot thank you enough for your hospitality.

Now, we could just sit back and comfortably reminisce about the good ole days. However, as with all great organizations, one must continue to look to the future to ensure the program's viability while building upon current successes.

ENJJPT is undergoing some major changes - modifications that lead undergraduate flight training transformation efforts for the Air Force. The ENJJPT Steering Committee and the wing are working hard to make our program even stronger through innovative ideas that leverage technology through an improved, more efficient course syllabus.

We call this ENJJPT 2008.

ENJJPT 2008 is transformed, international flight training that exploits advanced training aircraft capabilities and cutting edge technology while meeting individual national training requirements through the use of multiple, standards-based entry and exit points. Or, more simply put, this program provides more efficient international flight training in a smarter, more flexible way.

The fighter pilot of today must be prepared to employ the next generation of combat aircraft in a complex and dynamic environment. These weapons platforms all share a common thread - they are single seat, multi-role, very high performance fighters capable of providing unprecedented situational awareness to the onboard pilot.
In order to provide for the future of our NATO fighter force, we have asked ourselves one question - what skill sets are required of our future combat pilots, and how will we design our undergraduate pilot training programs to best fit those needs?

ENJJPT 2008 provides the roadmap for our future through use of advanced technology and aircraft improvements. Our student pilots today are beginning to practice for many hours in realistic flight simulators before strapping on an actual aircraft. With our computer labs, student pilots now have a technology-based learning program that wasn't previously available.

Our aircraft are also going through a transition period. Years ago we saw a need to upgrade our aircraft to reflect the technological advancements being made in operational fighters and bombers.

Our first upgrade is to provide flight training in the T-38C Talon, which possesses a glass cockpit more representative of those found in modern fighter aircraft. This all-digital display affords a more seamless transition for students into their primary follow-on fighter aircraft and is anticipated to aid the students in attaining combat ready status faster than in the past.

The second improvement is replacing the reliable but antiquated T-37 Tweet with the T-6A Texan II. The Tweet has been a phenomenal aircraft for more than 50 years but whose performance is limited by old technology. The T-6A is a higher performance aircraft that also incorporates glass cockpit technology into a more modern learning tool.

The T-6 will provide the similar training as the T-37 but at a lesser cost. The tandem seat configuration of the aircraft also gives the student pilots an early look at how front-line fighters are configured as opposed to the side-by-side make-up of the Tweet. Some training events that were previously not accomplished until flying the more advanced T-38 will be introduced in the lower cost T-6 aircraft through the concept of downloaded training events, ultimately saving dollars over the span of the program.

The downloading of some T-38 events into the T-6 also allows ENJJPT to expand and improve follow-on training in the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals program, such as introducing Close Air Support for the first time.

These are exciting times for us and our NATO partners as we continue along the path of excellence. No other international flying training program in the world operates with as much success as ENJJPT.

Through the continued efforts of the men and women of the 80th Flying Training Wing, , as well as support from our partnering 82nd Training Wing, the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program will undoubtedly continue to lead the way in "Training Tomorrow's NATO Air Warriors Today!"