The Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training Program operates under NATO and has been hosted at Sheppard Air Force Base for almost 30 years. September 13th- 17th the 13 countries met to discuss the future of the program.
The first ENJJPT graduating class was in 1983 at Sheppard AFB. Since then tons of pilots from all over the world and US have come through Texoma and called it home at one point. Col. Kevin Schneider, Commander of the 80th Flying Training Wing and Home of ENJJPT said it doesn't look like the program will be going anywhere.
Since 1978, the 13 partners have been under a Memorandum of Understanding,MOU, and it will expire March of 2016. Col Schneider attended a meeting in Berlin Germany to discuss issues about the program and what they see for its future.
"Each of the partners from the program has come to the table and said yes we want to continue passed 2016 the challenge right now is that we have to go through the process of going through each of the ministries of defence to get the official position of the partner nations," said Col. Kevin Schneider, Commander of the 80th Flying Training Wing, ENJJPT.
The first issue the partners addressed is to extend the current MOU past 2016 and keep the existing partners. Second they want to expand entry into the program to other NATO nations since NATO has doubled in size since the MOU was signed, but Col. Schneider also has his own plans.
"My number one objective is to increase participation in the program id like to get the nonparticipating partners back into the program," said Col. Schneider.
And he says the community is the true reason why ENJJPT will stay at Sheppard AFB.
"The local community is the most supportive local community I've encountered in my entire air force career...those that are not from Texas truly feel at home here and I think that relationship and that affecting and admiration is mutual here," said Col. Schneider.
The ENJJT Program is about a 55 weeks long, it is composed of about 70 % US pilots and 30% non-US pilots.
The Euro Nation Joint Jet Pilot Training Program meets twice a year to discuss topics. Next year it will be held at Sheppard AFB- March 2011.