Eurotraining delay puts onus on interim services

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Partner nations offer access to national fast jet systems to fill learning gap

Seizing on lengthy delays to the planned 11-nation Advanced European Jet Pilot Training, or Eurotraining, programme, at least three of its partner nations are targeting an emerging need to provide interim services until the project can begin operations around the middle of the next decade. The Belgian and French air forces are offering the third-party use of their Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets assigned to the bilateral Advanced Jet Training School (AJETS) at Tours and Cazaux air bases in France, while EADS and the Spanish air force are promoting the use of upgraded Northrop F-5Ms at the proposed Talavera European Fighter School.

f-5m fleet talavera w445
© EADS

Spain will offer training on its upgraded F-5M fleet at Talavera

Launched in late 2004, the Franco-Belgian programme currently provides training for 80 pilots and 20 weapon system operators annually, but 100 pilots will pass through the school every year by 2008. This total could eventually reach 120-130 students, says AJETS commander, French air force Col Jean-Marc Le Garrec. Two German students will also enter the system this month to undergo advanced and lead-in fighter training and to compare the European system with their previous instruction at Sheppard AFB, Texas.

Italy is to place its first students on the AJETS course later this year, and Greece and Spain have also shown interest in the system, says Le Garrec. Further development of the currently bilateral project could also see up to 70 transport pilots trained per year and the addition of rotary-wing courses.

The Spanish air force, meanwhile, says European and non-European partners could gain access to its F-5M fleet at Talavera from next year.

“We believe we have got a very good aircraft and the best airspace,” air force chief of plans and programmes Brig Gen Jesus Martin del Moral told IQPC’s Military Flight Training conference in London late last month. “We are offering spare capacity on the system to other air forces until the start of the Eurotraining programme.”

Officials from the AJETS and Talavera schools say their systems could be maintained until 2018 and 2020, respectively. The latter date corresponds with the planned full availability of the Eurotraining system, which is now expected to achieve initial operating capability in 2015 (Flight International, 28 February–6 March).

CRAIG HOYLE / LONDON