Lockheed Martin and Swiss Pilatus Aircraft joint bid – together with Hawker Pacific – to supply the Royal Australian Air Force with a new basic trainer has finally had its confirmed success.
Canberra confirmed on Sunday 6 September that it has choosen this “Team 21” to deliver 49 new Pilatus-designed PC-21 turboprop aircraft to replace the aging PC-9/A fleet of Training Command’s Central Flying School at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria and the 2 Flight Training School at RAAF Pearce. Both bases will likely manage a fleet of 22 aircraft, with 5 additional PC-21s used for testing and as a reserve.
Officially the Australian government still calls Team 21’s bid “the preferred choice”, but nobody doubts that when the details of the deal have been worked out another plane would be choosen. The choice seems to mark the end of 4 Squadron flying the PC-9/As out of RAAF Williamtown and which is not mentioned in the modernisation program. Currently Williamtown helps putting the 63 aircraft strong PC-9/A fleet in the air.
Already in May there seemed no other option left than the PC-21, which clearly won from the BAE Systems, Beechcraft and CAE Australia counter-bid to bring the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II into the RAAF’s ranks.
Australia has had a taste of the PC-21 already, since the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Basic Wings Course (BWC) program has been running at RAAF Pearce for eight years now as part of a 20-year program, with the RSAF having a total of 19 PC-21s on strength. Hawker Pacific and Switzerland’s Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, are principal subcontractors to Lockheed Martin, the training systems integrator.
The first pair of Royal Australian Air Force PC-21s is expected in 2017.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Pilatus PC-21 presenting itself against the typical landmarks of Sydney, Australia (Image © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.)