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NATO countries pooling jet pilot training assets through new network

Arctic Challenge Exercise
Illustration: NATO photo of Norwegian F-16s in a formation during ACE 17.

Defense ministers from 10 NATO countries agreed on June 9 to bolster the training of their nation’s military pilots through the creation of a network of training centers for fighter jet, helicopter and drone pilots.

This NATO High Visibility Project, which is part of NATO’s Flight Training Europe program – or NTFE, is expected to reduce training costs and increase interoperability among participating air forces.

Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Spain, and Turkey are participating in the program which will also leverage existing training infrastructure in participating nations.

This first-of-its-kind initiative will involve the gradual build-up of a network of European training campuses covering different aspects and types of aircrew training. They will provide allies with access to a wider range of training opportunities beyond what most allies could sustain independently and at a fraction of the cost. NFTE campuses will provide aircrews with advanced training, including the use of virtual reality technology and simulation.

“NATO troops operate and deploy together. So it makes sense that they also systematically prepare and train together”, said NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană in Brussels.

“The operational core of NFTE captures participants’ contributions and services received. Its design incentivizes continuous investment by the participants in enhancing NFTE training solutions. Most importantly, by continually investing in high quality training for our aircrews, NFTE is helping the alliance to maintain its technological and military edge,” he added.