Air Education and Training Command conducts flying training and is responsible for training aircrews and air battle managers, as well as conducting cadet airmanship programs at the United States Air Force Academy for more than 3,400 cadets per year.
Air Force pilot, Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilot, and combat systems officer candidates begin with Initial Flight Screening/RPA Flight Screening at Pueblo, Colorado, to gauge aptitude for flight and introduce candidates to the rigors of military aviation and training. Pilot candidates then attend either Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, or Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, Laughlin AFB, Texas, or Vance AFB, Oklahoma.
At ENJJPT, students learn with, and are taught by, U.S. Air Force officers and officers from various air forces of our NATO allies. Student pilots fly the T-6 Texan II mastering contact, instrument, low-level and formation flying. Then they move onto a fighter-trainer, the T-38 Talon, and continue building the skills necessary to become a fighter pilot.
Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training is divided into three phases, Academic/Ground Training, Primary Flying Training, and Advanced Flying Training.
This training includes:
a. Flying training to teach the principles and techniques used in operating advanced aircraft.
b. Ground training to supplement and reinforce flying training.
c. Officer development training to strengthen the graduate's leadership skills, officer qualities, and understanding of the role of the military pilot as an officer and supervisor.
Primary Flying Training is designed to teach the basic flying fundamentals necessary to safely operate any U.S. Air Force aircraft and lays the foundation for the advanced phase and for future responsibilities as military officers and leaders.
After the primary phase of specialized training, student pilots are selected for one of three advanced training tracks based on needs of the Air Force and their class standing. Prospective airlift and tanker pilots are assigned to the airlift/tanker track and train in the T-1 Jayhawk. Student pilots headed for bomber or fighter assignments are assigned to the bomber/fighter track and train in the T-38. Both airlift/tanker track and fighter/bomber track training continues at Columbus, Laughlin, or Vance Air Force Bases. Students selected to fly helicopters train in the TH-1H at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Approximately 160 students per year will be selected for duty flying Remotely Piloted Aircraft.
New to the AETC flight training programs, the RPA pilot training program, known as Undergraduate RPA Training or URT, was built around the lessons learned from more than 65 years of U.S. Air Force pilot training and designed to train Pilot-in-Command skills to the fledgling RPA pilots. Unlike traditional pilots who would expect to be wingmen or co-pilots in initial combat mission ready status, the RPA pilots are immediately solo and in charge of their mission upon reaching mission ready status. They are also thrust straight into actual combat upon reaching mission ready status, so it was essential that AETC trained as many basic skills as possible in the undergraduate training to prepare the RPA pilots for flight in National/International Airspace and readiness to enter the Formal Training Unit for their assigned RPA.
The RPA pilot requires many of the same skills and knowledge bases as the pilot of a traditional aircraft.
After RPA Flight Screening at Pueblo, the RPA pilot students attend RPA Instrument Qualification course at JBSA-Randolph; a simulator only course in dedicated T-6 Fixed Training Devices. Finally, a month long RPA Fundamentals Course at JBSA-Randolph is designed to give new RPA pilots without operational experience the tactical grounding experience needed to enter the Formal Training Units for the various RPAs: MQ-1, MQ-9, and RQ-4.
In addition to pilot and RPA pilot training, AETC provides Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training; this training takes place at NAS Pensacola, Florida. UCT combines skill sets of the legacy Navigator, Electronic Warfare Officer, and Weapon Systems Officer pipelines to produce an aviator skilled in advanced navigation systems, electronic warfare and weapons employment.
The Primary phase of UCT utilizes the T-6A and focuses on teaching students the fundamentals of instrument and visual navigation, while developing airmanship, and building a foundation of mission management skills.
The advanced phase of training utilizes the CSO modified T-1A aircraft and the T-25 Simulator for Electronic Combat. In this final phase, student training is focused on advanced navigation techniques, radar scope interpretation, the principles of electronic warfare, Crew Resource Management, and the fundamentals of weapons employment. Airmanship and mission management skills continue to develop to ensure graduates have the necessary skills to succeed in a vast array of follow-on MWS platforms.
AETC also provides follow-on training for most Air Force aircrew in their assigned aircraft. Pilots assigned to fighter aircraft complete the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Course, flying the T-38C. Students then move on to train in the F-15 Eagle at Kingsley Field, Oregon or in the F-16 Fighting Falcon at Luke AFB, Arizona, Tucson Air National Guard Base, Arizona, or JBSA-Lackland, Texas. Students assigned to the KC-135 Stratotanker or C-17 Globemaster III aircraft are trained at Altus AFB, Oklahoma. Aircrews assigned to fly the C-130 train at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, and aircrews assigned to fly MC-130H Combat Talon II, MC-130J Commando II, MC-130P Combat Shadow, HC-130 Combat King, UH-1N Huey, HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters or CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, receive their training at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Training of U.S. Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighter instructor pilots and operational test pilots began at Eglin AFB, Florida, continuing in 2012.
Enlisted Flying Training
AETC also provides enlisted aircrew training for a wide variety of aircrew specialties including flight engineers, air-to-air refueling boom operators, loadmasters, aerial gunners, airborne communications specialists, as well as the newest career enlisted aviator specialty – RPA sensor operator. Flight engineers train at Little Rock AFB, boom operators train at Altus AFB, and loadmasters train at Altus, Little Rock or JBSA-Lackland. Helicopter and tilt-rotor special mission aviators train at Kirtland AFB, and airborne communications specialists train at Keesler AFB. The RPA sensor operators complete the 3-skill level awarding course at JBSA-Randolph over a six-week period, learning the basic concepts of Full Motion Video, communications, different types of sensors and RPA crew duties before attending the FTU.