MILTON, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity's (NETSAFA) International Training Center (NITC) marked the 400th international aviator trained, as four students received their wings of gold, May 26.
All four students, from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF), trained as helicopter pilots with Training Wing (TW) 5 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field (NASWF). Saudi Arabia students represent the majority of the 400 international winged-aviators training with NITC over the past three decades. Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) students also attend classes through NITC, completing weapon system officer (WSO) training with TW 6 at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
"Immersing international students in our U.S. Navy training and culture helps build partnership capacity for both the present and for the years ahead," said Cmdr. Bill Gibson, NITC's officer-in-charge. "These relationships are truly a win-win for everyone involved."
The normal course length for students enrolled in aviation pilot or weapons systems officer preparatory training at NITC is 21 weeks. Once an international student completes NITC training, they move onto Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) at Naval Aviation Schools Command (NASC), and into the same aviation training pipeline as their U.S. counterparts.
"The RSNF pilot training we provide covers all phases of ground training for primary and advanced helicopter flight training, along with numerous simulator events before the student is turned over to one of the training squadrons," said Lt. Cmdr. Malcolm Rumph, officer-in-charge at NITC Det. NASWF.
The four newly winged RSNF aviators will return to Saudi Arabia where they will fly the AS332 Super Puma, AS365 Dauphin, or the AS565 Panther.
Additional countries coordinating aviation training with the U.S. are Algeria, Kuwait and Mexico. Two students from Mexico received their wings in February and two students from Algeria are expected to receive their wings in July.
NETSAFA, headquartered at Naval Air Station Pensacola, oversees all U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps international training and functions as the center of excellence in coordinating and supplying training and training support to international governments and organizations. NITC was established in 1988 to meet the aviation-specific training needs of international officer and enlisted students from allied nations. Over the years, NITC has added additional preparatory, technical and specialized training courses with aviation preparatory training still serving as the core mission area for NITC.
"There are many instructors here at NITC who have dedicated years -
literally decades, in some cases - to training international military students, most of which in the area of aviation preparatory training," said Gibson. "As illustrated by that longevity and absolute dedication to the students that I witness day after day, this is clearly a mission that we believe in whole-heartedly."
NETSAFA is the U.S. Navy's agent for international education and training. For more information about NETSAFA, visit https://www.netsafa.navy.mil.
For more news from Naval Education and Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnet/.