Arrival of the New Training Aircraft for Future Fighter Pilots
(Source: French Armed Forces Ministry; issued Aug. 30, 2018)
(Issued in French; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
A Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainer, still carrying its Swiss civilian registration, is escorted by a Rafale fighter on its way to Cognac, is western France, where it will equip the French air force’s new fighter pilot school. (FR AF photo)
The Directorate General of Armament (DGA) is preparing to transfer the first training aircraft for the future fighter pilot school located in Cognac.

The first two Pilatus PC21 turboprop trainers, which will replace both the Dassault Alpha Jets and the Aérospatiale Epsilon TB30s used to train French fighter pilots since the 1970s, landed at Cognac air base on August 30, 2018 for pre-delivery controls.

This is an important step in the implementation of the air force’s new plan to modernize the training syllabus of its fighter crews, which aims to renew both the equipment and the training methods used to train pilots, navigators and weapons systems officers.

The new aircraft are being delivered under a contract awarded by the DGA to Babcock Mission Critical Services France in December 2016. This is a service contract, which covers the provision and support, for a period of eight years, of a fleet of 17 Pilatus PC 21 turboprop training aircraft, ground simulation equipment (2 Full Mission simulators and 3 coaches), mission preparation and retrieval tools, as well as associated infrastructure.

The expected annual flight hours are in the order of 11,500 flight hours. The equipment will become the property of the Ministry of the Armed Forces in 2022. All the equipment will be delivered in early 2019 to ensure the training of the first class in the summer of 2019.

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