As reported earlier by Scramble, on 9 June 2021, the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace, (French Air and Space Force) had launched a call for tenders to replace a number of ageing Alpha Jets.
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. has now announced that it has received an additional order for nine PC-21 trainers. These PC-21s will be deployed to train future military pilots who will subsequently step up to the nation’s multi-role lead-fighter.
The French procurement authority, the Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) , signed the agreement with F-AIR 21 (Cognac Formation Aero SAS France), with Pilatus acting as the exclusive subcontractor for the supply of the nine PC-21s and other groundbased training systems and spare parts.
The PC-21s will be stationed at the Cognac-Châteaubernard air base from 2023, where seventeen PC-21s have been in use since 2018. With the latest order, the PC-21 fleet will increase to a total of 26.
Switching to the latest generation turboprop powered trainer has obvious advantages for the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace. The PC-21 is far more cost-effective to operate that a conventional jet trainer. Feedback from existing PC-21 customers confirms that the Pilatus training system delivers a reduction of over 50 percent in the cost of training a prospective military pilot.
Besides Switzerland and Spain, France is the third European nation to adopt the PC-21, the world’s most advanced training system. Over 230 PC-21s are now in service with nine air forces worldwide. The PC-21 is also used to train future test pilots at the Empire Test Pilots’ School in Boscombe Down, England.
Credit: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.