Leonardo International Flight Training School to Train JASDF Pilots

TOKYO/ROME: The Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, General Alberto Rosso, and Chief of Staff of the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF), General Shunji Izutsu, have signed an important technical arrangement on the training of Japanese military pilots. The technical arrangement was signed virtually between the offices of the two Generals in Italy and Japan.

Under this agreement, the Japanese military pilots will take part in the advanced training courses (Phase IV) at International Flight Training School (IFTS), said Leonardo in a statement.

The IFTS is a joint project made by Italian Air Force and Leonardo, that includes also an industrial partnership between Leonardo and CAE for the maintenance/support of the aircraft fleet and simulators.

Japan’s interest in the training capabilities developed by the Italian Air Force was consolidated after a series of discussions and initiatives that culminated in a visit to the 61st Wing at Lecce-Galatina Air Force Base on September 2020. This was when a JASDF delegation was able to appreciate the excellence of the Italian Air Force’s training system, particularly the Integrated Training System developed by Leonardo and centred around the T-346A aircraft.

Leonardo M-346

The newly signed technical arrangement enables a gradual increase in JASDF student pilot intake over the forthcoming years. In the future, Japanese instructors could be welcomed into the school to work side-by-side with Italian colleagues, in an approach that favours the exchange of experiences, the optimisation and standardisation of procedures, to benefit all the operators in the sector.

Japan is the third country, after Qatar and Germany, to choose the International Flight Training School (IFTS) for its pilots. The Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, General Alberto Rosso, before signing the document, underlined its profound significance: “Today is an important and historical date. I am proud and honoured to be able to sign this agreement, which will outline for both countries the track for growing together, for sharing professional skills, allowing our staff to work in close contact, synergy and friendship.

“This is another important step in the collaboration between our Air Forces: we are already cooperating with great success in many areas, for example having common platforms such as the F-35 aircraft and the KC-767 tanker. […] The distance that separates us today is geographical only, but our countries are close, joined in harmony on many themes and historically connected. We remember, for example, the “Rome – Tokyo flight” of the pioneer Arturo Ferrarin, which we celebrated last week in his hometown of Thiene (North Italy): a historic undertaking and also a powerful symbol of the strong and lasting bond that joins our two countries.”

Chief of Staff of the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF), General Shunji Izutsu, commented: “Signing today the technical arrangement, I deeply appreciate your and your staff’s extensive support and cooperation. I believe that this is a significant step to deepen defence cooperation and exchanges between the Koku-Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defence Force) and Italian Air Force. This is one of your great achievements. Let me extend my heartfelt respect to your achievements and gratitude to your contribution to Japan-Italy relationship. I really wish your continuous success and prosperity, and progress for the Italian Air Force.”

The International Flight Training School (IFTS) is the result of a strategic collaboration between the Italian Air Force and Leonardo, which is aimed at the establishment of an advanced flight training centre based in Italy. It is a virtuous example of collaboration and public-private synergy, capable of satisfying the growing demand of partner countries for the training of their pilots at highest standards. The project is intended to double training offer by creating a new training centre distributed between the bases of Galatina and Decimomannu, in Sardinia, where the new IFTS Campus is under construction.—shp/adj/aaa (PHOTOS: Leonardo)