Military Technology 05/2022

22 · MT 5/2022 Feature pipeline faster. The vehicle for this was the Pilot Training Next (PTN) programme where students use low-cost flight training devices during the early stages of their training to increase the speed of training and knowledge assimilation. Although AETC has claimed great success for PTN and the later Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) initiative, no figures have been published as to how much time has actually been saved. The US Navy has adopted a similar approach with its Naval Aviation Training Next (NATN) initiative that is overseen by the US Navy’s Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA). NATN comprises Project Avenger that is associated with primary flight training on the T-6B Texan II; Project Hellcat, intermediate strike training on the same platform and Project Corsair, advanced flight training on the T-45C Goshawk. Like the US Air Force that found PTN did not actually save time, NATN has actually added a little more time to the training pipeline with the addition of an intermediate strike component during project Hellcat. The emphasis of NATN has changed to better preparing students for the next phase of their training as opposed to reducing the length of the training pipeline to address the pilot shortage. In the UK, the Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) programme is in the process of adopting a similar approach with its fast-jet transformation programme. The clear aim here to exploit technology to generate more capacity, reduce time in training, reduce the use of high-cost resources and deliver a higher quality pilot. Again, like PTN/UPT and NATN, measuring success is difficult. One area where UKMFTS has, in theory, potentially shortened the fast jet training pipeline is to send a small number of the most capable students straight onto the Hawk T2 fast-jet aircraft straight from the Prefect T1 (Grob 120TP) and thereby cutting out the Basic Fast-jet Training (BFT) on the Texan T1 at RAF Valley. In the US for example, the US Air Force still has a shortage of around 1,600 pilots while shortages are also a problem in the US Navy and US Marine Corps. The US Air Force has taken a number of steps to address this issue through broadening its recruitment criteria by addressing diversity and inclusivity (D&I) issues as well as making greater use of synthetic training equipment to speed up the transit time through the training pipeline. As far as D&I is concerned and following the publication of its Racial Disparity Report, the US Air Force has now modified its Pilot Candidate Selection Method (PCSM). PCSM comprises the Air Force Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT), the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS) and a credit for any flight hours accrued as a private pilot. All candidates can now re-sit AFOQT and TBAS after 90 days, compared to 150 and 180 days respectively. Candidates can take TBAS three times, use composite scores from their AFOQT rather than the latest score and participate in AFOQT study sessions prior to sitting that particular exam. The other change is that only the first 60 hours of private flight time will be taken into account. “Our studies concluded that these changes will result in more qualified candidates of underrepresented groups being selected for training,” said Lt Col Brandi King, the working group’s Air Education and Training Command (AETC) lead. The Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) Strategic Research and Assessment branch found that by removing the four highest ranges of flight hour codes – the credits for private pilot flying time – would have resulted in 69 more Hispanic, 47 more female, and 26 more Black/ African-American qualified applicants over a 12-year period. AFPC did not report on how many additional white male candidates would have been accepted under the new scheme. The US Air Force’s other method of easing the pilot shortage was to push students through the training Although current simulation technologies can support next generation air forces, speed of training is vital to get pilots through the training pipeline quickly. (Photo: US Air Force Research Laboratory)