SOFEX 2018

New trainers make debut [SOFEX18D2]

09 May 2018

The Royal Jordanian Air Force has implemented a new fixed-wing pilot training system based on the Grob G 120TP and Pilatus PC-21 aircraft. Examples of both are on show in the outside static display for the first time. Together with the Robinson R44 Raven II that became fully operational in 2015 for rotary-wing training, the new aircraft represent a complete recapitalisation of the trainer fleet.

Seeking a replacement for its ageing fleet of 13 CASA C-101CC Aviojet advanced jet trainers – survivors of a batch of 16 that was delivered in the 1980s – the RJAF initially ordered nine PC-9M turboprop trainers from Pilatus in August 2015, to be delivered from early 2017. However, in April 2016 the service subsequently changed its plans, switching the order to eight of the more advanced PC-21, plus options for a further two. These options were exercised in December 2016, bringing the order book to 10 aircraft.

Pilatus flew the first PC-21 for Jordan on 15 November 2016 and deliveries got underway last year, the first arriving on 27 August. The aircraft equip No. 11 Squadron, part of the King Hussein Air College at Mafraq, which was raised to university status in 2015. Jordan follows Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE in the Middle East region in adopting the PC-21 to meet its advanced training needs.

Partnering the PC-21 is the Grob G 120TP, 14 of which were acquired to replace the Slingsby T67M260 Firefly basic trainers with the King Hussein Air College’s No. 4 Squadron, also at Mafraq. The type has also replaced Fireflies operating with the Flight Instructor School.

The Grob is proving to be a popular choice for basic training, having been selected by the UK and US Army, among others. Two of the RJAF’s aircraft were donated by Germany as part of a larger military assistance package.

Officially entering Jordanian service in April 2017, the G 120TP fleet is supported by a computer-based training system and flight training device that allows students to accomplish much of the syllabus on the ground. The aircraft’s ‘glass’ cockpit provides an ideal introduction to the PC-21, which has an advanced cockpit with embedded virtual training systems and the ability to undertake tactical training.

With the two turboprop-powered aircraft the RJAF can progress students much further along the path to combat status before expensive-to-operate jet aircraft are required. Fast-jet training on the F-16 is undertaken at Muwaff aq Salti, and Jordan is implementing two locally based air combat training centres for advanced mission training. Lockheed Martin received a contract in 2016 to establish and maintain them.

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