Holloman Air Force Base

Transatlantic support

German Tornado crews are training over the desert of New Mexico. Holloman Air Force Base is the home of the German Air Force Flying Training Center.

(PH/AK)Since April 1996 the Panavia Tornado is a regular sight in the skies of New Mexico. For best weather conditions, extended airspace and unlimited operation hours are ideal requirements for the German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAFFTC) at Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo where it conducts several courses including the weapons instructor course. This highest qualification in military aviation represents only a part of the Center's work, which is currently manned by a team of about 600 male and female service personnel and civilians. Every year totaling an average of 50 students join in the courses in the United States, whereas the initial training on the Tornado weapon system is in the main focus. This training lasts almost nine months. It includes about 100 flying hours plus an extremely wide-ranging programme of theory. In addition, future flying instructors and weapon system officers gain their instructor ratings here after appropriate training.
For every flight manoeuvre certain tolerances are laid down, and the student pilots have to remain within those limits. For example, on an instrument approach they have to stay within ten knots of the specified speed or within 100 feet of the required altitude. Any flight failed has to be repeated. If a student fails several flights, he is taken off the course. This also applies to the missions in the CAE simulator, which since 2005 has been equipped with a dome and a laser visual system. At the moment about 25 Tornados are based at Holloman. The era of the Phantom however has come to a close. The first examples of the F-4E to train the German Crews came to New Mexico in May 1992 from George AFB and were later replaced by F-4Fs (see Feature in the Archive Section). The training ended in December 2004. Today the Phantom is only active at Holloman as a drone operated by the US Air Force.