Paris, France, 30 December 2016 — The French Air Force (Armée de l’air française), one of the world’s most professional air arms, has finally opted for the Pilatus PC-21 training system to replace during next decade part of its present fleet of ageing Alpha Jet advance trainers mainly used for advanced and weapon training. A total of 17 PC-21s will be used to train future military pilots who will transfer to the Alpha Jet prior to their conversion on to the Dassault Rafale, a combat aircraft due to become by the end of this next decade the sole fighter aircraft type of the French Air Force.
The contract signed on last 30 December 2016 by the French Air Force involves Babcock Mission Critical Services France (BMCSF), with Pilatus as a sub-contractor, in which role the PC-21 and other ground-based training material will contribute to completion of the overall contract. Only three lead-in fighter trainers were being considered by the French Air Force : besides the Swiss PC-21,the Italian M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) from Leonardo-Finmeccanica and the Czech L-39NG from Aero Vodochody (see photos below).
In addition to the Swiss Air Force, France is now the second European nation to opt for the PC-21 already recognised as one of the world’s most advanced, most efficient integrated training system. Pilatus’ newest turboprop product, the PC-21, has been developed and certified as a completely new training system with the objective of meeting the expectations of modern air forces over the next 30 years, both in terms of capability and life-cycle cost.
The 3,000 kg PC-21 has a superior aerodynamic and acrobatic (+8/-4 g-loads) performances when compared with any other turboprop trainer on the market, and for the French Air Force expert examinators is considered a more powerful, flexible and cost-effective integrated training system than any other jet or turboprop trainer extant; not to mention a life-cycle support cost largely equal to current turbo-prop benchmarks like the T-6 Texan II or the EMB-314 Super Tucano.