France buys additional Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft

France buys additional Pilatus PC21
Pilatus PC-21 trainer aircraft.

After our anticipation in early June, Pilatus yesterday confirmed the purchase of additional PC-21 turboprop trainer aircraft by France.

The Swiss manufacturer said the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace has ordered an additional nine PC-21s that will be deployed to train future military pilots who will subsequently step up to the nation’s multi-role lead-fighter. The PC-21s will replace the Alpha Jet twin-engine trainers which were previously used for pilot training.

These nine new aircraft will be added to the 17 PC-21s ordered in 2017 by the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace.

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.

"French evaluations are highly professional, which again proves to us that we offer the world’s best training system in this market. I am delighted that the Armée de l'air et de l'espace has opted for further PC-21s," Markus Bucher, Pilatus Chief Executive Officer, said. 

The additional PC-21s will be stationed at the Cognac-Châteaubernard air base from 2023, where PC-21s have been in use since 2018. The first pilots concluded their training in the Swiss-made aircraft in 2020. With the latest order, the PC-21 fleet will increase to a total of 26. Besides Switzerland and Spain, France is the third European nation to adopt the PC-21. 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.

According to Pilatus, the PC-21 is the world’s most advanced training system. It festures a mission spectrum that was previously reserved exclusively for jets and 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," Pilatus says.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Pilatus Aircraft

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