The final aircraft in the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Pilatus PC-21 pilot training aircraft fleet has arrived at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria, Australia.

The delivery completes the fleet of 49 aircraft designated to meet the pilot training needs of the RAAF.

The Australian Department of Defence acquired the 49 turboprop trainer aircraft as part of the AIR5428 project to replace RAAF’s existing PC-9/A and CT-4B aircraft.

Australia Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “This pilot training system will ensure young pilots looking to serve in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) have access to the latest facilities and training.

“This investment is part of our government’s commitment to continue producing highly skilled and talented personnel across the navy, army and airforce.”

The 11.2m-long, 3.8m-tall aircraft are based at RAAF Base East Sale and RAAF Base Pearce.

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The pilot training system provides advanced simulation and electronic learning capabilities.

It will equip undergraduate pilots with basic skills needed before they undergo training on the F-35A, MRH-90, and other advanced military aircraft.

The PC-21 has a range of 1,333km and can reach a top altitude of 25,000ft. Powered by Pratt and Whitney PT6A-68B turboprop, the aircraft can attain a maximum speed of 685km/h.

Australia Veterans and Defence Personnel Minister Darren Chester said: “Undergraduate pilots at RAAF Bases East Sale and Pearce will now be able to use the best equipment along with a new tailored Pilot Training System, which will meet their needs and those of future recruits.

“The new system can train more people faster and to a higher standard and will ensure undergraduate pilots develop the necessary skills before moving to more advanced military aircraft.

“From early 2020, the PC-21 will also be used for flight test and evaluation at RAAF Base Edinburgh and forward air control at RAAF Base Williamtown.”

The PC-9/A aircraft is nearing the end of its service life. It served the training needs of aircrew across all three military branches.