The first batch of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilots have arrived in Switzerland to undergo conversion training on the Pilatus PC-21 aircraft.
The pilots will subsequently form a team responsible for the development of a new training curriculum and simulators under Project AIR 5428 Pilot Training System.
Included in the 2009 Defense Capability Plan, the AIR 5428 project involves the replacement of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) PC-9/A and CT-4B aircraft with Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft.
The pilot training systems delivered under the project are expected to cover all facets of undergraduate pilot training, from basic flying to entry into air force lead-in fighter and operational conversion units.
Australia is buying 42 PC-21 and seven Flight Training Devices (simulators) for the new Pilot Training System, under a contract signed with Team-21 in September 2015.
Team 21, comprising Lockheed Martin, Hawker Pacific and Pilatus, will deliver aircraft, simulators, other training equipment and a comprehensive long-term support package.
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The first aircraft and simulators under the Project AIR 5428 are expected to be delivered in 2017.
Australia will also acquire three PC-21 aircraft for the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) and four Forward Air Control variants for Number 4 Squadron.
The PC-21 will be based at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria and RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia.
Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68B turboprop engine, the PC-21 is a low-wing swept monoplane advanced trainer aircraft designed to fulfil the requirements for basic, advanced and fighter lead-in training for pilots and, if required, weapon systems officers (WSO).
The aircraft features a fully digital glass cockpit with head-up displays, an up-front control panel (UFPC), a hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) control, and full sized multi-function displays.
Image: A Pilatus PC-21 aircraft flying over Australia. Photo: courtesy of Pilatus.