The skies above Albacete, Spain roar with jet noise as NATO’s best fighter pilots take part in the Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP), a school often referred to as ‘NATO’s Top Gun.’ TLP gives an international twist to the US Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, also known as TOPGUN, a proving ground for fighter pilots who wish to test their mettle. At this course, the focus is on learning how to work together, merging tactics and capabilities to make a stronger multinational fighting force. Over the course of four weeks, TLP students must plan, fly and debrief their missions, often on short notice. This teaches pilots to manage stress while responding to increasingly complex scenarios that factor in modern adversary tactics, like electronic warfare. Through the long days and nights, TLP forges Allied pilots into a single, multinational team, capable of taking on even the most difficult tasks. The Tactical Leadership Programme was founded by six NATO Allies in 1978, in what was then the Federal Republic of Germany. Today, 10 Allies – Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States of America – fly from Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete, sharing the latest in tactics and techniques to raise the overall effectiveness of Allied air forces.



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