France appears to have accelerated the delivery of 17 Pilatus PC-21 high-speed turboprops which will operate as trainer aircraft for its air force.

Babcock Mission Critical Services France is to procure the aircraft for the nation's defence ministry under the terms of an 11-year, €500 million ($600 million) contract won last year.

However, all 17 aircraft will be delivered over the next 18 months, Babcock indicates.

"Following changes made by the customer to the programme schedule, we anticipate formal acceptance of these assets in the next financial year," Babcock says in a trading update for the 2017-2018 financial year, which began on 1 April.

A first test flight of the initial PC-21 has taken place, it adds. Babcock expects that the French government will agree on leases covering the aircraft during its 2018-2019 financial year.

Also included in the FOMEDEC project are a new training facility to be provided with simulators and mission planning and debriefing equipment, plus the delivery of through-life support for the aircraft fleet.