Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester hosted Vince Di Pietro, chief executive for Lockheed Martin Australia, and representatives from AIR 5428 partners Pilatus Aircraft and Hawker Pacific at a celebration last week.
“We are excited to celebrate this momentous occasion with the CAF and recognise this marks the beginning of training for Australia’s fifth-generation air capability,” said Di Pietro.
"This milestone is a great achievement to all involved and we celebrate the Australian Defence Force’s first flight in service and acceptance of the first six of 49 PC-21 aircraft, as the mainstay trainer for Australia’s pilot training program for decades to come.
"Combining the PC-21 turboprop training aircraft with state-of-the-art training simulations and an electronic learning environment, Australia’s new Pilot Training System will prepare Australia’s next-generation pilots for mission success."
Under the AIR 5428 project, which is an integrated solution tailored for all future pilots of the ADF, Lockheed Martin is providing overall project management for the pilot training system and delivering a family of integrated ground-based training technologies.
"Lockheed Martin Australia leads the delivery of integrated solutions for all future pilots of the Australian Defence Force," said Amy Gowder, vice president of training and logistics solutions for Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems business.
"This milestone is an important achievement, and confirms the Lockheed Martin-led team is on track to deliver a world-class pilot training solution to the Australian Defence Force."
Pilatus Aircraft is providing 49 PC-21 turboprop training aircraft and through-life engineering and airworthiness support, while Hawker Pacific is providing maintenance services and fleet support, and leveraging its established supply chain in Australia.
Signed in December 2015, the initial seven-year AIR 5428 Pilot Training System contract is valued at $1.2 billion, with performance-based options to extend the value and length of the contract for up to 25 years
The new aircraft are set to replace the ageing PC-9/A training systems from early 2019. The PC-9/A fleet has been in service since 1987.
The PC-21 is equipped with a pressurised cockpit, air conditioning, an anti-G system and on-board oxygen generation.
The new fleet will go a long way in training undergraduate pilots before they progress to more advanced military aircraft, like the F-35 JSF.
"Our future generations of Joint Strike Fighter, Wedgetail and Growler pilots will begin their training on these aircraft, ensuring we have a pipeline of highly skilled trainees," Minister Payne said.
"This will provide the Australian Defence Force with a tailored pilot training system to meet the needs of our pilots for the next 30 years."