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European NATO countries reorganize pilot training

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană on Wednesday told participating allies of the bloc a network of training centers for jet, helicopter and drone pilots could benefit the alliance. Photo courtesy of NATO
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană on Wednesday told participating allies of the bloc a network of training centers for jet, helicopter and drone pilots could benefit the alliance. Photo courtesy of NATO

June 9 (UPI) -- The defense ministers of 10 countries agreed to upgrade their military pilots' capabilities through NATO's Flight Training Europe program on Wednesday.

The air forces of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Turkey will be involved in the program, known as NFTE, a statement on Wednesday said.

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Largely using existing air bases across Europe, pilots of fighter planes, helicopters, transport planes and remotely piloted aircraft will be expected to learn adaptable and interoperable skills.

"NATO troops operate and deploy together, so it makes sense that they also systematically prepare and train together," NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said in a press release.

"Most importantly, by continually investing in high quality training for our aircrews, NFTE is helping the alliance to maintain its technological and military edge," Geoana said.

The plan includes a gradual buildup of campuses at the bases, which will be specialized according to task, allowing access to wider training opportunities, the NATO statement said.

The NFTE was established in 2020 and modeled after the NATO Flight Training in Canada program, started in 200 and used to train NATO pilots.

A 2020 statement cited the "increasing costly and challenging endeavor" of state-of-the-art pilot training, adding that smaller NATO countries currently send pilots to the United States for training, "which results in additional strain on U.S. capacities."

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