Australian Aviation can confirm that the first three Pilatus PC-21s have arrived at the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Number 4 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.
The PC-21 is regarded as one of the world’s most advanced pilot training aircraft and replaces the recently retired PC-9/A.
The aircraft is a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68B turboprop-powered advanced trainer, manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft in Switzerland.
It has a stepped tandem cockpit with the student in front and the instructor behind and features a bird strike-resistant canopy with all-round vision.
The aircraft was ferried from RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria.
Commanding Officer Number 4 Squadron, Wing Commander Sean Jobson, said the PC-21 will assist in preparing the next generation of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), supporting Forward Air Control and Air Surface Integration across a broad spectrum of operations.
“4 Squadron has a joint service responsibility for guiding the training and development of JTACs,” Wing Commander Jobson said.
“The arrival of the new aircraft will ensure personnel have the opportunity to continue to execute kinetic effects in real time scenarios.”
JTAC training includes the ability to plan, brief, control and report on aircraft to provide close air support in the battlefield.
“The PC-21 will ensure that 4 Squadron continues to deliver the highest standard of mission training so JTAC personnel are, and continue to remain, combat ready,” Wing Commander Jobson said.
The PC-21 was chosen by Australia to replace the Pilatus PC-9 as part of project AIR 5428. The score includes new 49 aircraft.
The project was delivered by a consortium including Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific, known as Team 21, with the successful tender announced in September 2015.
The remaining Number 4 Squadron aircraft are expected to arrive at RAAF Base Williamtown in February 2020.