Additional PC-21s for the French Air Force
In February 2020, as part of Project Mentor, the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (French Air and Space Force) launched a call for tenders to replace the Alpha Jets providing the pilot training at Cazaux (Base Aérienne 120).
F-Air 21 (formerly known as FOMEDEC, Formation Modernisée et Entraînement Différencié des Équipages de Chasse), a joint venture constituted by Dassault Aviation and Babcock France, has won the contract to replace the Alpha Jets of the École de Transition Opérationnelle (ETO, Operational Transition School), currently based at Cazaux.
Up to 13 additional Pilatus PC-21s could land at Cognac/Châteaubernard (BA709) to ensure the Advanced phase IV fighter pilot training. The training will be outsourced with aircraft and maintenance delegated to a private service provider. The instructors will be provided by the military.
Seventeen Pilatus PC-21s and several simulators have been delivered to the air force. The trainers are operated by the École de Pilotage de l'Armée de l'Air 315 (EPAA315) Général Jarry at Cognac/Châteaubernard. The first fighter pilots who successfully passed their training on the PC-21 will soon arrive at the Escadron de Transformation Rafale 3/4 Aquitaine (ETR03.004) Acquitaine at Saint Dizier/Robinson (BA113).
Thanks to its manoeuvring capabilities (-4G, + 8G) and its latest generation avionics, the PC-21 allows the modernisation of fighter crew training. Furthermore, the functionalities of the PC-21 system, such as on-board simulation and the quality of the simulator, allow a profound modernisation of the training course towards a programme more representative of current operations.
The PC-21s delivered to the air force are registered 01/709-FC until 17/709-FS (construction numbers 293 to 309).
Photo by Jean François Auran