Norwegian State Secretary Eirik Owre Thorshaug speaks with a member of the Norwegian contingent at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program during his tour of Sheppard Air Force Base May 8. Thorshaug came to the base to meet with Norwegian student and instructor pilots in the ENJJPT Program. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Meredith Hein)
by 2nd Lt. Meredith Hein
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
5/9/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Norwegian State Secretary Eirik Owre Thorshaug visited Sheppard today to meet with Norwegian student and instructor pilots at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program.
Also present was Brig. Gen. Morten Klever, the Deputy Director of the F-35 Program for Norway and former ENJJPT Steering Committee Chairperson. The group came to Sheppard during a tour of F-35 production in the U.S.
"The added value of training here at Sheppard as a part of NATO is so important," said Thorshaug. "We can draw on each other's knowledge. ENJJPT trains the top-level pilots to provide the operational capability the NATO alliance needs."
All of Norway's fighter pilots go through their undergraduate pilot training at ENJJPT, which is the only internationally-managed pilot training program in the world.
"This program helps us to keep an interoperable force," said Thorshaug. "It provides an international and allied perspective that is relevant to our operations."
Thorshaug noted that, in a time of worldwide fiscal constraints, "we need to have more international cooperation to create a smart defense."
Thorshaug and Klever both commented on the need to train pilots capable of flying fifth-generation fighters in coming years.
"Our role is to tell leadership why this program is important," said Klever. "Our allies are facing the same challenges we are over the next few years. We need to work together to develop the program to meet our future challenges."
In a world where coalition fighting has become the norm, Klever commented that the biggest benefit of ENJJPT has always been the NATO coalition. "Pilots going into operations already know each other, they know the procedures, and they know how to work together."
Norwegian pilots have contributed to many NATO operations since ENJJPT's inception, including Operation Allied Force (Kosovo), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Odyssey Dawn (Libya).
"In the future, we intend to remain a strong partner in this program," said Thorshaug. "We will continue to cooperate with our allies and provide the operational capabilities we need."
During his visit, Thorshaug, along with the Norwegian contingent in the 80th Flying Training Wing, commemorated Norway's Liberation and Veterans Day with a short ceremony at the Heritage Center here on base.
"We are here to celebrate the 68th commemoration of our liberation," said Thorshaug. "It is important to be here today to meet with the student and instructor pilots here and to remember this day with them."
In ENJJPT's 32 year history, 317 Norwegian pilots, including Klever, have completed training at ENJJPT.
"I earned my wings here in 1986," said Klever. "It's always great to be back at ENJJPT."