Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

CANADA IS PREPARING to host NATO student pilots who will enter a unique industry-run flying-training programme. The first fighter pilots are scheduled to graduate from the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) programme in late 2000, having made full use of Canada's vast unrestricted airspace to hone their combat skills to a level not previously possible.

The NFTC has its origins in the Canadian Forces' realisation that its reduced requirements for pilot training could no longer support an infrastructure built up over the previous 20 years. NATO was also looking for a long-term solution to its need to find a country to host flying training for European nations lacking the capability, or the airspace, to train their pilots.

In December 1994, Bombardier submitted an unsolicited proposal to provide contractor-operated jet-pilot training in Canada. Since July 1992, the company had been providing primary, multi-engine and rotary-wing training for the Canadian Forces at CFB Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The success of this programme provided a model for the NFTC proposal.

A Canadian Forces feasibility study concluded that a contractor-run programme, with a potentially achievable level of international participation, could be a less costly way of training its fast-jet pilots. In May 1995, therefore, an offer, contingent on achieving a minimum level of international participation, was made to host NATO flying training in Canada.

Several nations train their combat-aircraft crews under the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) programme operated by the US Air Force at Sheppard AFB, Texas. This is conducted under an agreement which expires in 2005, and NATO has been looking for a long-term solution, says Lt Col Ian Milani, director of the Canadian Aerospace Training Project at the Department of National Defence (DND).


Forecast demand

The USA has offered to go on hosting NATO jet-pilot training, but the forecast demand from the nations already involved in ENJJPT exceeds its capacity. That is before the likely requirements for new NATO nations are factored in, Milani says. Canada and the USA have therefore co-ordinated their offers. NATO Flying Training in the United States (NFTUS), the post-2000 successor to the ENJJPT, will handle most European NATO jet-pilot training; the NFTC will take the overspill.

Following Canada's offer to host flying training, NATO nations were invited to participate in development of the syllabus. Three accepted. The resulting syllabus is based on Canadian Forces training, optimised to prepare pilots to fly new-technology fighters, says Milani. The result is a common core syllabus, the later stages of which can be tailored to meet national needs.

The syllabus, with costs based on using Embraer Super Tucano turboprop and British Aerospace Hawk jet trainers owned and operated by Bombardier, was presented to NATO in 1996. Denmark, Norway and the UK signed letters of intent early in 1997 to participate in the NFTC.

Initial international participation is not as great as Canada had hoped, Milani admits. The three European NATO nations plan to send about 22 students through each course. The DND had hoped for 40-45 non-Canadians, but Milani is confident that international involvement will grow before the programme becomes operational in late 1999. Three or four countries are in the final stages of deciding, he says.

Despite the lower-than-expected acceptance of its offer, Canada decided in April to launch the NFTC. Milani says that, with the current level of international participation, it will be as cost-effective a way of training Canadian pilots as alternatives studied by the DND. Training in Canada on modern aircraft is also more attractive than continuing to use ageing Canadair Tutors or training pilots outside Canada.

Contracts are now being negotiated with Bombardier Defence Systems and its subcontractors, and are expected to be in place by September. Bombardier will buy the aircraft from BAe and Embraer, and simulators from CAE Electronics. The Canadian company will also take over operation of CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where Super Tucanos and Hawks will be used for basic and advanced training, respectively. Bombardier will also operate an NFTC enclave at the much larger CFB Cold Lake, Alberta, where Hawks will be used for tactical training. Super Tucanos will be maintained by CAE Aviation, and Hawks by Bombardier, says Rob Slinger, aviation-training marketing manager at Bombardier Defense Systems.

Based on projected NFTC throughput, which includes 130 Canadian students, Bombardier is negotiating to buy 22 Super Tucanos and 17 Hawks, initially. Although owned by Bombardier, and commercially insured, they will be military-qualified and registered by the DND. Training is to begin on the Super Tucano in October 1999, and on the Hawk by mid-2000.

Bombardier will also buy four flight-simulators, two for each type. The Super Tucano devices will be based at Moose Jaw along with one Hawk machine. The other Hawk simulator will be based at Cold Lake.

The EMB-314 Super Tucano is a growth variant of Embraer's EMB-312 Tucano turboprop trainer. The NFTC aircraft will be powered by a 930kW (1,250shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68, with full-authority digital engine-control, mimicking the throttle response of a turbofan. The tandem-seat cockpit will have an AlliedSignal electronic flight-instrument system. The Super Tucano has a pressurised cockpit with zero-zero ejection seats.

The Hawk 115 variant selected for the NTFC has an avionics suite, including a head-up display, weapon-aiming computer, multi-function display and hands-on-throttle-and- stick controls, mimicking the cockpits of modern fighters. Powered by a 26kN (5,850lb)-thrust Rolls-Royce Turboméca Adour 871 turbofan, it will be equipped to use the air-combat manoeuvring range at Cold Lake. To score simulated weapons release and debrief students after tactical sorties using the range instrumentation will be a huge training multiplier, Milani believes.


Three-phase syllabus

The NFTC's syllabus has been divided into three phases. Phase II, basic training on the Super Tucano at Moose Jaw, has been divided into two subphases to accommodate the Canadian requirement to stream pilots for helicopter and multi-engine training after completion of a common basic-training course. ( For Canadian students, Phase I, pilot screening and primary training, will be conducted by Bombardier at Portage. The DND is also marketing this programme, as well as helicopter and multi-engine training at Portage, to other nations, Milani says).

Phase II will consist of 123h in the Super Tucano: 95h of that will be in Phase IIA, after which the majority of Canadian students will leave for 90h helicopter training on Bell 206s or 70h multi-engine training on Raytheon Beech King Airs at Portage. About one-third of the Canadian students and all of the international participants will complete another 28h Phase IIB basic training on the Super Tucano .

Phase III will consist of 80h advanced training on the Hawk at Moose Jaw. Students who graduate from this phase will be eligible for Canadian Forces Wings. Training will then move to Cold Lake for Phase IV tactical, or fighter lead-in, training. This will involve 47h on the Hawk, and will cover basic fighter manoeuvring, air-combat manoeuvring, weapons delivery and ground-attack tactics.

Phase IV includes training which would normally take place on a front-line fighter at the operational-conversion unit. Moving as much squadron-level training as possible on to the Hawk reduces costs and produces a limited combat-readiness, Slinger says.

The emphasis on tactical training sets the NFTC syllabus apart from the NFTUS programme, and is made possible by the unrestricted airspace available at Cold Lake. The vast low-flying area covers 700,000km2 (270,000 miles2), and the lack of conflict with civilian traffic allows each sortie to be used more effectively. Canada's airspace is a strategic asset, and nations will need to participate in the NFTC to gain access to it, Slinger says.

Negotiations are now under way to agree long-term contracts with the participating nations, which will pay an all-inclusive tuition fee for each student. The aim is to secure 20-year contracts, to amortise the cost of the new aircraft, but ten- and 15-year options are available.

Instructors will be provided by the DND, and by the other nations in proportion to their participation in NFTC. All flight instruction will be performed by serving military pilots, as will ground instruction during the tactical-training phase. This is an approach used successfully to maintain training quality at the Bombardier-run Portage centre, Milani says.

While existing NATO nations are the primary targets for joint marketing of the NFTC by BAe, Bombardier, the DND and Embraer, other opportunities include European nations which have been accepted for, or have applied for, NATO membership. Embraer says that Brazil is evaluating the programme to meet at least some of its pilot-training needs, with other Latin American countries showing interest. Asia-Pacific is seen as another potential market.

Milani says that the programme as envisaged has the capacity to absorb another 90 students a year in each phase. Slinger, meanwhile, is projecting significant growth and predicts the programme will double is size in the first few years. The first students are scheduled to graduate from the NFTC in late 2000, by which time the Canadian Forces plans to have phased out its Tutors and moved to a more cost-effective way of training fighter pilots.

Source: Flight International