ARCHIVED - NATO Flying Training in Canada: An Innovative Solution for NATO Flying Training Requirements

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Backgrounder / September 7, 1998 / Project number: BG-98.044


The NATO Flying Training in Canada initiative (NFTC) is a joint Government of Canada and industry program that takes military pilot training to new heights. NFTC offers under-graduate and post-graduate pilot training in a flexible program using advanced glass cockpit training aircraft, in the unrestricted military air space and tactical range facilities of two Western Canadian air bases.

The NFTC initiative began in December 1994, as an unsolicited proposal from an industry team, led by Bombardier, to provide contractor-supported jet pilot training in Canada. A business-case analysis of the industry proposal, conducted by the Department of National Defence (DND), demonstrated that with a potentially achievable level of international participation, the Canadian Forces could train its pilots at a lower cost. Accordingly, a formal offer to host NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training beyond the year 2005 was submitted to NATO on May 1, 1995 under the title NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC).

Most NATO nations now train some or all of their jet pilots in the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) program, run by the United States Air Force (USAF) at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. The ENJJPT program is conducted under an agreement that expires in 2005. The forecast NATO pilot training requirements exceed the planned ENJJPT capacity. For some years, NATO has requested members to host the follow-on program.

The NFTC go-ahead depended on foreign participation to achieve cost-effectiveness through economies of scale, and the program launch was contingent on attracting sufficient participation to meet long-term commitments. In April 1997, the Canadian Government announced that it had received sufficient interest in the NFTC program by NATO nations such as the United Kingdom, Norway, and Denmark to begin finalising negotiations with the Bombardier team. On November 4, 1997, the Canadian Government announced it had approved a 20-year, $2.85 billion contract with Bombardier to deliver services to support NFTC. Under this contract, the Bombardier team would provide fully serviced aircraft, training material, flight simulators, and airfield and site-support services. The first NFTC instructors will start training in 1999, with the first students following in early 2000.

NFTC Program

Canada has developed a unique approach to providing contractor support to military pilot training. The Canadian model integrates military training and Standards with private-sector support. The result is a militarily effective program operated with commercial efficiencies. Canadian and NATO pilots would provide the flying instruction, with the industry team providing the aircraft maintenance and classroom instruction. In addition, with access to over 700,000 square kilometers of dedicated military training areas and ranges, located in Western Canada's sparsely populated areas, NFTC has the airspace needed to conduct effective jet pilot advanced flying and weapons training. NATO defines four phases of pilot training. Phase I is a selection phase and a national responsibility. Phase II (basic) and Phase III (advanced) lead to the pilot becoming eligible for Canadian Air Force Wings qualifications to the successful candidates. The NFTC Phase IV is a tactical training activity that leads to national operational training squadrons.

The Turboprop Trainer

Students in Phase II will train on a Raytheon Aircraft T-6A that may shortly become known at the "Harvard II." The T-6A Harvard II is ideally suited for the Phase II basic flying training mission. Seven hundred and forty Raytheon T-6A aircraft will be purchased by the United States Air Force and the United States Navy. Raytheon Aircraft has also produced the T-1A Jayhawk, the T-34 Turbo Mentor, and the T-44 Pegasus training aircraft. T-6A Harvard II has the latest airframe and engine improvements with modern avionics systems and displays. This aircraft has the best training transfer capability for new pilots proceeding from the primary flying phase through to advanced high performance jet trainers.

The principal features of the Raytheon T-6A aircraft are:

1100 SHP Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 engine

Digital fuel control for jet-like handling

Enhanced cockpit with Electronic Flight Instrumentation System (EFIS)

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Onboard Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS)

The Raytheon T-6A has superb power plant performance, a pressurized cockpit, and features a new wing and a modern glass cockpit. The advanced avionics package includes sunlight-readable, active-matrix liquid crystal displays. The aerodynamic design of the T-6A Harvard II, combined with a high power-to-weight ratio, translates into an agile intermediate training vehicle. NFTC student pilots are able to manage aircraft information systems early in their training by virtue of the glass cockpit capabilities of the T-6A Harvard II. Students are therefore well prepared to make an efficient transition to the Hawk 115. The T-6A Harvard II in the NFTC Program has the potential to conduct additional syllabus hours to build airmanship and experience, or to introduce a higher level of basic tactical flying training.

The Jet Trainer

Students in Phase III will train on the British Aerospace Hawk 115, a two-seat, advanced jet and fighter lead-in training aircraft. It offers an efficient solution to the training of student pilots preparing for modern front-line aircraft, while also providing a seamless transition from the turboprop. From inception, the Hawk 100 series was specifically designed to meet the training requirements of pilots proceeding to advanced front-line aircraft such as the Euro-fighter 2000. Development focused on enhancing operating efficiency, training effectiveness, and operational capability. Its flying characteristics are predictable and consistent. The Hawk has a modern glass cockpit and is equipped with a Heads Up Display (HUD) and a Hands On Throttle And Stick (HOTAS). These features preclude the need to convert from an analogue cockpit to a digital cockpit prior to operational conversion on a modern fighter. Its integrated navigation and weapon aiming system and data recorder are comparable to those on front-line fighters. Furthermore, its tactical capabilities are consistent with those of current fighter aircraft. These characteristics make the Hawk 115 an ideal fighter lead-in aircraft.

The principal features of the Hawk 115 aircraft are:

Advanced cockpit with Heads-Up Display (HUD)

Multi-Function Display (MFD)

Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) controls

Military Standard (MIL STD) 1553B data bus

High powered Adour Mk 871 turbofan engine

Seven station combat wing with auto-combat manoeuvre flaps

Air Combat Manoeuvring Range Instrumentation (ACMRI) capability

Since the Hawk 115 is well suited for advanced jet and fighter lead-in training, using the Hawk for both functions eliminates the need for a third aircraft type. This means one less aircraft conversion course and one less aircraft type to purchase, supply and maintain. This enables a reduction in the cost of fighter pilot training without any loss in quality. Finally, the tactical handling characteristics and the advanced avionics and weapon systems capabilities of the Hawk 115 enable it to be efficiently employed as a training aircraft beyond fighter lead-in training. In many cases, a portion of operational training now conducted on front-line aircraft can be transferred to the Hawk 115 ensuring substantial savings.

Training Facilities

Under the NFTC program, Canada will conduct NATO jet pilot training at two locations: Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Moose Jaw in southern Saskatchewan; and CFB Cold Lake in north-eastern Alberta. Moose Jaw was chosen because of its large pilot capacity and its full-capability aerodrome that is dedicated to military flying training. CFB Moose Jaw will be the site for NFTC Phase II and Phase III training. CFB Cold Lake has a reputation as one of the world's finest fighter training facilities. Accommodating five separate air to air and air to ground ranges and air weapons ranges almost 10,000 square kilometers in size, CFB Cold Lake is ideally suited for NFTC Phase IV, Fighter Lead-In Training (FLIT) module.

NFTC Roots

NFTC is based on the long and proud Canadian tradition of assisting in training and developing pilots of allied countries which dates back to the First World War. In 1917, the British Royal Flying Corps created a training establishment in Ontario, with headquarters in Toronto and training wings in Camp Borden, North Toronto and Deseronto. In the summer and fall of 1917, the United States brought 10 American Air Force squadrons to Canada for training before to their deployment in the European Theatre. The Royal Flying Corps training experiences in Canada during the First World War laid the groundwork for the creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) of 1940-45. This training plan, the largest and most successful of its kind ever conducted, began in April of 1940, and by 1943, about 3,000 students, including more than 1,600 pilots, were graduating each month. When the BCATP ceased operations in March 1945, more than 130,000 Commonwealth and allied aircrew had trained in Canada. In the early 1950s, Canada offered once again a centre for training allied pilots. At the start of the Korean hostilities, facilities were made available for training NATO aircrew at Royal Canadian Air Forces (RCAF) schools across Canada. Students from nearly a dozen countries were training in Canada under the auspices of the NATO Air Training Plan. By 1958, Canada had trained over 5,000 pilots and observers for NATO allies. Over the years, Canada has continued to provide assistance to NATO allies in training pilots and aircrew. In addition, the Canada Military Training Assistance Plan, which was established in the early 1960s, has provided subsidized aircrew training to developing Commonwealth and other nations. In addition, Canada has hosted several allied nations on user trials of Canadian Forces (CF) aircrew and air operations training.


NFTC combines basic, advanced and fighter lead-in training to produce a comprehensive fighter pilot training program. Governments will achieve cost-effective training through the economies of scale of a common modular training system with the reduced overhead of a program supported by the international aerospace industry team. As a result, NFTC can offer high Standards of quality and a means of forecasting and managing fighter pilot training costs in one of the best training environments in the world.

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