80th Flying Training Wing [80th FTW]
The 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base, TX, conducts the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program (ENJJPT), sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The 55-week program is designed to produce pilots qualified for assignment to fighter aircraft.
The 80th FTW conducts pilot training while the 82nd Flying Training Wing conducts all technical training at the base.
While the ENJJPT program began in 1981, other flying training had an earlier start.
The 3630th Flying Training Wing, which was later to become the 80th, was activated December 10, 1965, and assumed the helicopter training program. It began providing undergraduate pilot training in the T-37 and T-38 for the German Air Force in August 1966.
The 3630th Flying Training Wing provided undergraduate pilot training for the Vietnamese Air Force from July 1971 to April 1975.
The wing designation was changed to the 80th Flying Training Wing in January 1973.
The 80th Flying Training Wing began conducting Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training on October 1, 1981. This unique program provides fighter-oriented pilot training for 13 NATO countries. They are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In 1987, the short-term solution at Sheppard was extended an additional two years from 1991 to 1993 to facilitate further study on relocation to a European base. In 1989 the program was again extended, this time until the year 2005.
The ENJJPT program trains approximately 250 undergraduate pilots each year. Nine participating nations have students and instructors in the program: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. Four others - Canada, Greece, Portugal, and the United Kingdom - contribute instructor pilots to the multinational staff.
The 80th FTW is a multinational organization comprised of 13 nations and charted to produce fighter pilots for NATO. This is a fully integrated staff of 1,300 military, civilian, and contractor personnel, employing 221 T-37, T-38, and AT-38 aircraft flying over 86,000 hours each year.
Approximately 50 percent of the student pilots and instructors are from the U.S. Air Force. In addition to undergraduate pilot training, the 80th Flying Training Wing began to host the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals program on January 7, 1994. This program is a six-week course introducing basic fighter maneuvers to pilot training graduates who have been assigned to fly fighter-type aircraft. The programs transitions up to 150 pilots yearly.
The 80th also operates its own pilot instructor training and introduction to fighter fundamentals programs. The pilot instructor training program produces approximately 100-120 new instructors each year in support of the undergraduate pilot training and fighter fundamentals programs. The introduction to fighter fundamentals program graduates 110 students annually.
The 80th FTW is commanded by a U.S. Air Force colonel, and the second-in-command, the operations group commander, is a German Air Force colonel. Officers from the full range of participants fill the remainder of operational supervisory positions. This includes squadron commanders, operations officers, flight commanders and wing staff officers from all 13 participating ENJJPT nations.
As a result of this totally integrated structure, an U.S. Air Force second lieutenant student pilot may have a Belgian flight instructor, a Dutch flight commander, a Greek section commander, an Italian operations officer and a German squadron commander. Training is conducted in English, which is the international language of aviation.
The ENJJPT syllabus differs from other U.S. Air Force undergraduate pilot training programs. It includes 256 flying hours compared to approximately 206 for the other programs. The additional hours are used to achieve special skills needed to prepare the student pilot for follow-on training in a wide variety of fighter aircraft, as well as for the weather conditions experienced in the European Theater of Operations.
Maintenance for the T-37 and T-38 aircraft used in the ENJJPT program is provided by civilian contract. This arrangement was found to be more cost effective since the contractor can focus the efforts of a stable, experienced work force solely on aircraft maintenance tasks. Total program costs are shared by member nations, as each pays a prorated portion of the expenses based on its level of participation.
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