Australia has awarded an A$1.2bn contract to Lockheed Martin-led Team 21 to support the new Australian Defence Force (ADF) Pilot Training System for seven years.

The team will supply 49 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft, seven flight simulators, a modern learning environment and updated courseware, for training the ADF pilots.

The integrated training will be tailored for all future pilots of the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army.

Pilots will be trained on the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, MH60R Seahawk helicopter and MRH-90 helicopter.

Australia Minister for Defence Marise Payne said: "For the first time in Australia, pilot training will include simulators in undergraduate training.

"This will become the new benchmark for training and preparing military pilots for fourth and fifth generation platforms."

The courses will begin in early 2019, with 165 trainee pilots recruited each year. The ADF will be able to increase the number of pilot graduates from 77 to 105 a year.

As prime contractor, Lockheed Martin is responsible for overall project management and delivery of integrated ground-based training technologies.

The AIR 5428 Pilot Training System contract has options to be extended up to 25 years based on the performance of the company.

"This will become the new benchmark for training and preparing military pilots for fourth and fifth generation platforms"

"Defence looks forward to a long term partnership with Lockheed Martin Australia as together we embark on this exciting new phase of pilot training for the ADF" Payne added.

The Basic Flying Training will be delivered from RAAF Base East Sale, Victoria, and Advanced Flying Training from RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia.

Lockheed Martin Training and Logistics Solutions vice-president and general manager Jon Rambeau said: "Our proven, innovative training system will help the ADF meet the challenge of preparing pilots to perform in today’s complex global environment."

One of the partners in the contract, Pilatus Aircraft will provide PC-21 turboprop training aircraft and through-life engineering and airworthiness support, while another partner Hawker Pacific will provide maintenance services and fleet support.

Image: Australian defence officials signing a contract with Lockheed Martin team. Photo: courtesy of SGT Murray Staff / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.