First Vietnamese pilot trained by US Air Force
Updated at Saturday, 08 Jun 2019, 09:59
The Hanoitimes - This is a milestone for the greater military-to-military cooperation between Vietnam and the US.
Senior Lieutenant Dang Duc Toai has become the first Vietnamese graduated from a US Air Force-funded program.
Captain Toai from the Vietnamese Army finished on May 31 the Aviation Leadership Program (ALP) which provides undergraduate pilot training scholarships to students of the US partner and developing countries.
Senior Lieutenant Dang Duc Toai during a graduation ceremony May 30. Photo: US Air Force
At the graduation ceremony held at Columbus Air Force Base (AFB) in Mississippi State, Special Assistant to the Director of Training and Readiness and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Pentagon Brig. Gen. Edward Vaughan talked about the significance of Toai’s participation, according to the Air Force.
“I want you to fly, I want you to fight and I want you to win,” Vaughn said. “It is a great honor and privilege to be able to speak to you and welcome you among us now as one of our partners.”
Milestone for bilateral defense relationship
Lt. Gen. Steve Kwast, commander of Air Education and Training Command, commented on Toai’s graduation marking a significant step forward for the two countries’ air forces.
“Vietnam’s participation in the Aviation Leadership Program is a tremendous milestone for the US Air Force and Vietnam Air Defense-Air Force collaborative relationship,” Kwast said.
“This type of training and cooperation enables Vietnam’s air force to increase its abilities in air and maritime operations. This partnership helps ensure peace and stability in the region and in the world.”
The participation of the Vietnamese captain in the program also helps strengthen the security ties between the US and Vietnam, marking the deepened defense relationship which stated in the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation and the 2015 Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations.
Notably, the move demonstrates the commitment between the US and Vietnam toward reaching mutual goals in the Indo-Pacific region.
Brig. Gen. Michael Winkler, Pacific Air Forces Strategy, Plans and Programs director said the training represents the US continued cooperation with partner countries and their strong support for the region.
“We look forward to greater military-to-military cooperation that continues to allow the U.S. and Vietnam to more effectively work together to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
After Toai, Sub Lieutenant Doan Van Canh, now a trainee at Columbus AFB, will become the second Vietnamese to graduate from the ALP.
Senior Lieutenant Dang Duc Toai and Sub Lieutenant Doan Van Canh. Photo: US Air Force
Air Force training program
The ALP is a difficult and well-trained program.
Before arriving at their pilot training base, ALP students attend the Defense Language Institute English Language Center (DLIELC) at Joint-Base San Antonio Lackland, Texas, for special purpose English training.
Toai took part in the ALP in May 2018 at Columbus AFB after finishing DLIELC which he joined in 2016. He has since flown the T-6 Texan II for more than 167 hours.
For ALP students, they need to take more hours in the T-6 and receive their wings once they complete the course.
Maj. Dave Cote, 41st Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot said “ALP is heavily geared toward flying and ground training,” Cote said, “but another major aspect of the ALP is to promote cultural and informational exchanges to develop mutual cooperation and understanding between the US Air Force and participating nations’ air forces.
Cote said the ALP is essential to “building partner capacity.”