The first six new Air Force Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft were welcomed at RAAF Base East Sale on Friday, 11 August.
CAPTION: Two of the RAAF’s new Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft, A54-003 and A54-004, fly over the Gippsland region. Photo by Flight Lieutenant Ash Kissock.
From early 2019, the new fleet of PC-21 aircraft will replace the PC-9/A training system, which has been in service since 1987.
Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Member for Gippsland Darren Chester officially welcomed the aircraft at their new base.
“The new pilot training system is a significant leap forward and will train more of our people faster, and to a higher standard than our current system,” Minister Payne said.
“Our future generations of Joint Strike Fighter, Wedgetail and Growler pilots will begin their training on these aircraft, ensuring we have a pipeline of highly skilled trainees.
“This will provide the Australian Defence Force with a tailored pilot training system to meet the needs of our pilots for the next 30 years.”
Minister Payne congratulated industry partners Lockheed Martin Australia, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific, and Defence’s Capability and Sustainment Group for its on-time delivery of this project stage.
She also congratulated Laing O’Rourke Australia and Defence’s Estate and Infrastructure Group for its delivery of facilities for this project stage in highly challenged timelines.
“Over $300 million is being invested in new state-of-the-art training facilities, which incorporates seven new PC-21 flight simulators, both here at RAAF Base East Sale and at RAAF Base Pearce in Perth.
“The government’s investment in the new pilot training system and relocation of Basic Flying Training School to RAAF Base East Sale is part of our commitment to continue producing highly skilled and talented personnel across Air Force, Navy and Army.
“Overall, this is a $1.5 billion investment that will ensure young pilots looking to serve in the Australian Defence Force have access to the latest facilities and training methods.
“The ADF will now have an intake of up to 165 trainee pilots each year at RAAF Base East Sale, leading to an increase in the number of successful graduates,” she said.
The new facilities in Sale are expected to be complete by September next year.
The Royal Australian Air Force is planning to commence PC-21-based training of undergraduate students in piloting and flying instructor courses in early 2019.
+ + +