Graham Warwick

A unique approach to military flying training officially got off the ground on 6 July, when the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) programme formally opened at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. All Canadian Forces pilots, plus students from Denmark, Italy, Singapore and the UK, will be trained by the industry-owned and operated NFTC.

After five years of planning and preparation, NFTC inducted its first Canadian and Italian students on 12 June. Danish and Singaporean student pilots will enter the system in October and November, respectively, and the first UK Royal Air Force pilots will begin training at Moose Jaw in March next year. Students will train on 24 Raytheon Aircraft T-6A Harvard II basic turboprop trainers and 20 BAE Systems Hawk 115 advanced jet trainers which NFTC has ordered. NFTC is the result of a strategic alliance between the Canadian government and an industry team led by Bombardier, which has signed a 20-year, C$2.85 billion ($1.93 billion) contract to provide aircraft, training material, simulators and support services. The deal allowed the Canadian government to avoid the expense of replacing its ageing Canadair Tutor trainers and avoided the closure of Moose Jaw.

The Bombardier-led team, which includes BAE, Raytheon, CAE Electronics, ATCO Frontec, SERCO Aviation Services and Aramark Canada, has spent more than C$204 million on renovations and new facilities at Moose Jaw and has started to spend another $12 million at Cold Lake, Alberta, where the final phase of training will take place.


The first three phases take place at Moose Jaw. Phase II basic training lasts six months and involves 95h in the Harvard plus 36h in a CAE-built Harvard flight training device. For pilots destined for fighters, this is followed by Phase IIB, a six-week preparatory course involving another 28h in the Harvard. Phase III advanced flying training is also conducted at Moose Jaw. This five-month course involves 80h in the Hawk and 31h in a CAE-built Hawk training device.

The first Phase II began in June and will be followed this October by the start of the first Phase III. Phase IIB training will begin in January next year, and Phase IV in April. Phase IV, the tactical fighter lead-in phase, will take place at Cold Lake and is a four-month course involving 52h in the Hawk and 18h in the simulator.

Canadian air force pilots will complete all four phases. The Danish air force is sending six students a year and the Italian air force is sending three a year initially, and they, too, will complete all four phases. The Republic of Singapore Air Force is sending six pilots a year to attend Phases III and IV, while the RAF is sending 20 pilots a year, but only for Phase IV training, following a Hawk 115 conversion course at Moose Jaw.

Foreign participation is worth over $800 million, according to the Canadian Department of National Defence, which says other air forces "continue to express strong interest in the NFTC programme, and it is hoped more agreements will be reached in the near future". More participants will require more aircraft, which is good news for the industry team.

Source: Flight Daily News