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RAAF welcomes first PC-21 trainer aircraft

Taking training to new heights, Air Force Number 4 Squadron based at RAAF Base Williamtown has welcomed its first three Pilatus PC-21 aircraft to their new home.

Taking training to new heights, Air Force Number 4 Squadron based at RAAF Base Williamtown has welcomed its first three Pilatus PC-21 aircraft to their new home.

Regarded as “the world’s most advanced pilot training aircraft”, the PC-21’s arrival on Friday, 24 January, at 4SQN demonstrated the platform’s training versatility – with the aircraft being engaged and immersed in a different but still highly significant training role.   


Commanding Officer No. 4 Squadron, Wing Commander Sean Jobson, said the PC-21 replaces the recently retired PC-9/A and will contribute to vital squadron training activities.

“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,” WGCDR Jobson said.

Air Force is currently transitioning to the PC-21 trainer as part of the most significant technological upgrade in Air Force’s 98-year history.

“No. 4 Squadron has a joint service responsibility for guiding the training and development of JTACs. The arrival of the new aircraft will ensure personnel have the opportunity to continue to execute kinetic effects in real-time scenarios,” explained WGCDR Jobson. 

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 No. 4 Squadron continues to deliver the highest standard of mission training so JTAC personnel are, and continue to remain, combat-ready,” WGCDR Jobson said.

The first three No. 4 Squadron PC-21 aircraft ferried from RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria, with remaining No. 4 Squadron aircraft expected to arrive at RAAF Base Williamtown in February 2020.

The Pilatus PC-21 is the world’s most advanced pilot training aircraft. As part of the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System project, the PC-21 will replace Air Force’s current PC-9/A. It will be based at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria and RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia.

Although the PC-21 is a key element of the AIR 5428 project, it is only one part of the story. The new Pilot Training System will be able to train more people faster and to a higher standard, with an:

  • advanced aircraft;
  • state of the art simulation; and
  • an electronic learning environment.

The system will ensure undergraduate pilots develop the necessary knowledge and skills prior to progressing onto advanced military aircraft such as the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, and MRH-90 helicopter.

It is capable of sustained, low-level speeds over 320 knots, and hydraulically-assisted ailerons and roll spoilers can produce fighter-like rates of roll in excess of 200 degrees per second.

A digital power management system and automatic yaw compensation makes the PC-21 easy to fly in the circuit while still providing the performance required for advanced training.

RAAF welcomes first PC-21 trainer aircraft
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