Training US Air Force Fighter Pilots

Nineteenth Air Force, with headquarters at Randolph AFB, Texas, conducts AETC’s flying training. As of mid-2000, the 19th Air Force was composed of more than 35,000 assigned personnel and 1,600 aircraft in 19 units throughout the United States.

Air Force pilot candidates begin with introductory flight training (IFT). In IFT, civilian instructors provide 50 hours of flight instruction to pilot candidates who must complete requirements for a private pilot license.

Pilot candidates then attend either Euro-NATO joint jet pilot training (ENJJPT) or joint specialized undergraduate pilot training (JSUPT).

ENJJPT is located at Sheppard AFB, TX. The entire course lasts about 54 weeks. Students learn with, and are taught by, U.S. Air Force officers and officers from various air forces of our European allies. Student pilots first fly the T-37 mastering contact, instrument, low-level and formation flying. Next, they strap on the supersonic T-38 and continue building the skills necessary to become a fighter pilot.

JSUPT students accomplish primary training in the T-37 Tweet at one of three Air Force bases – Columbus AFB, MS, Laughlin AFB, TX, or Vance AFB, OK; or in the T-34C Turbomentor at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, FL. Joint training is conducted at Vance AFB, OK, and NAS Whiting Field for students from the Air Force and Navy.

During the primary phase of JSUPT, students learn basic flight skills common to all military pilots.

Joint Strike Fighter

The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, formerly the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) Program, is the Department of Defense’s focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The focus of the program is affordability — reducing the development cost, production cost, and cost of ownership of the JSF family of aircraft. Prior to the start of System Design and Development (SDD) in Fall 2001, the program facilitated the Services’ development of fully
validated, affordable operational requirements, and it lowered risk by investing in and demonstrating key leveraging technologies and operational concepts. Upon SDD contract award to Lockheed Martin on 26 October 2001, the program embarked on full development of three affordable and effective JSF variants.

The JSF will fulfill stated Service needs as follows:

U. S. Navy First day of war, survivable strike fighter aircraft to complement F/A-18E/F
U.S. Air Force Multirole aircraft (primary-air-to-ground) to replace the F-16 and A-10 and complement the F-22A
U.S. Marine Corps STOVL aircraft to replace the AV-8B and F/A-18 as their only strike fighter
United Kingdom Royal Navy & Royal Air Force STOVL aircraft to replace Sea Harriers & GR.7s as a supersonic strike fighter
Other Countries Potential JSF customers include current operators of F-16, F/A-18, and AV-8B

Air Combat Command

Air Combat Command (ACC), established 1 June 1992, with headquarters at Langley AFB, Va., operates Air Force bombers and CONUS-based, combat-coded fighter and attack aircraft. Organizes, trains, equips and maintains combat-ready forces for rapid deployment and employment while ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defense.

The creation of Air Combat Command (ACC) on 1 June 1992 resulted in part from dramatic changes in the international arena. The collapse of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War led senior defense planners to conclude that the structure of the military establishment which had evolved during the Cold War years was not suited to the new world situation. The likelihood of a large-scale nuclear conflict seemed far more remote, but US military forces would increasingly be called upon to participate in smaller-scale regional contingencies and humanitarian operations.


Combat Flight Simulator 3, Battle for Europe

Tactical air combat simulation of northwest Europe starting in mid-1943. New collection of 18 aircraft including the first jet fighters


Falcon 4.0

Air combat simulation set in the Korean peninsula. Up to 4 teams can fight in the same arena. Missions can range from navigation training to managing a military campaign

Fighter Pilot

Fighter Pilots fly fighter-type aircraft and are responsible for commanding crews to accomplish combat, training and other missions.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Fighter Pilot must possess extensive knowledge of flight theory, air navigation, meteorology, flying directives, aircraft operating procedures and mission tactics. As pilot and crew commander, duties include operating aircraft controls and equipment, in-flight refueling, cargo and passenger delivery, and training crewmembers.

The Fighter Pilot develops plans and policies and monitors operations, and also must plan and prepare for missions by reviewing intelligence and weather information, filing flight plans and briefing the crew, and ensuring that the aircraft is inspected, loaded, equipped and manned for mission.

Civilian Opportunities

Commercial Pilot

Duties and Responsibilities

Many pilots receive their training and original FAA licenses from the armed services. Commercial pilots need to obtain a private pilot license, an instrument rating, a commercial rating for single and/or multi engine, then an Airline Transport Pilot rating.

A commercial pilot plans and prepares for the flight, reviews flight tasking, and weather information. The pilot is responsible for filing flight plans and supervising flight planning and preparation. The pilot also ensures that the aircraft is inspected, loaded, equipped and manned pre-flight. The pilot operates aircraft controls and navigational equipment, and handles emergency situations necessary to safely land the aircraft.

Military Flight Training – Become a Fighter Pilot

Military Flight Aptitude Tests AFOQT, USN/USMC Tests

Officer Candidate Tests Multiservice Guide

Air Force Officer’s Guide


How to Become a Naval Officer Naval Officer’s Guide

Fighter Pilots – Fighter Pilot True Stories and Fighter Plane Books


Vipers in the Storm: Gulf War Fighter Pilot Diary


Bogeys and Bandits: Making of a Fighter Pilot


Basher Five-Two Scott O’Grady’s Story


100 Missions North A Fighter Pilot in Vietnam


Fighter Pilot: The First American WW2 Ace


F/A-18 Hornet: How to Fly and Fight


Fighter Wing: A Tom Clancy Guided Tour


Strike Eagle: Flying F-15E in the Gulf War


Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering


Modern Fighters The Ultimate Guide


Airman’s Guide


Score High on ASVAB