On 10 July this year, the first Pilatus PC-21 destined for service with the French air force took to the air at the company’s Stans factory in Switzerland. The first of 17 PC-21 turboprop trainers to equip the fighter training school at Cognac air base is expected to be delivered in March.
The aircraft are being provided as part of a training system contract awarded to Babcock (Stand S2-310) in December and being delivered by a joint company formed in January by Babcock Mission Critical Services France and Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of France’s Rafale multirole fighter.
Answering the air force’s FOMEDEC (Formation Modernisée et Entraînement Différencié des Equipages de Chasse) requirement, the initial contract covers the provision and support of a training system for 11 years, during which time the aircraft will remain under the ownership of the joint venture. Afterwards, the aircraft are due to be turned over to air force ownership.
The training system includes simulators from CAE and other ground-based systems.
Rockwell Collins was contracted last month to provide two Spectraview visual display systems for the CAE simulators.
Unlike the British Military Flying Training System, being implemented by the Ascent team of Babcock and Lockheed Martin, in which the contractor supplies most of the instructors, the FOMEDEC programme will employ French air force instructors. An output of about 50 aircrews is required annually. The aircraft will replace piston-engined Grob G 120 and SOCATA Epsilons in basic training tasks, and will also download some of the advanced training burden from the ageing Dassault Alpha Jet trainers, some of which are due to get an upgrade for extended service.