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Australia signs training contract with Lockheed-led consortium

A consortium led by Lockheed Martin has been formally awarded a A$1.2 billion ($870 million) contract to train Australian Defence Force (ADF) pilots using Pilatus PC-21 aircraft.

The ‘Team 21’ consortium, which includes Pilatus Aircraft and local MRO provider Hawker Pacific, was announced as the preferred tenderer for the pilot training system requirement in September.

Included in the deal is the acquisition of 49 PC-21 trainer aircraft, seven flight simulators and updated courseware for an initial seven-year term from 2019.

Defence minister Marise Payne says that this will ensure that undergraduate pilots across the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army will be better equipped to transition to advanced military aircraft, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and MRH-90 helicopter.

“For the first time in Australia, pilot training will include simulators in undergraduate training. This will become the new benchmark for training and preparing military pilots for fourth and fifth generation platforms,” she adds.

The Department of Defence says that the new arrangements will also allow the ADF to increase the number of graduate pilots from 77 to 105 per year.

Under the teaming arrangement, Lockheed Martin will provide overall project management for the training system, with Pilatus providing the aircraft and through-life support. Hawker Pacific, meanwhile, will provide maintenance services and fleet support in Australia.

The ADF will continue to provide the instructors for the programme, which will see basic training delivered at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria. Advanced flying training will continue to take place at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia.

The Team 21 partners already operate a similar training system for the Singapore Air Force’s Basic Wings course, which is conducted at Pearce.

The consortium competed against a rival bid by BAE Systems, CAE Australia and Beechcraft which had proposed a system based around the Beechcraft T-6C platform.

BAE Systems is the incumbent contractor for basic training, operating the ADF’s Basic Flying Training School in Tamworth. That school will close in 2019 as the ADF transitions to the Lockheed contract.

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