Qatar is to acquire a fleet of 24 Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainers and associated equipment, the Swiss manufacturer has announced.

"The Qatar Emiri Air Force selected the PC-21 as their fixed-wing basic and advanced training aircraft, after a thorough evaluation both in Switzerland and in Qatar," Pilatus says.

To equip a new air force academy to be established in Qatar, the aircraft will be accompanied by a ground-based training system, and be "directly supported by Pilatus under a long-term performance-based support contract" also including maintenance activities, the company says.

 PC-21 over UAE - Pilatus


Aircraft deliveries will commence in mid-2014, with the new academy to begin providing crew training services in mid-2015.

Qatar flies six Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet trainers, as recorded by Flightglobal's MiliCAS database, but needs new-generation aircraft to support its growing air force.

The service participated in NATO's 2011 campaign to protect Libyan civilians by deploying some of its nine Dassault Mirage 2000-5EDA fighters to air policing duties, and is looking at types including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Dassault Rafale as potential replacements.

The Gulf state has also recently expanded its air transport capabilities, with the introduction of two Boeing C-17s and four Lockheed Martin C-130Js.

Pilatus has enjoyed a successful past two months with its PC-21, with Qatar's commitment having followed a late May order to provide 55 to the Royal Saudi Air Force. The company had previously sold a combined 52 of the type to the air forces of Singapore, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Source: Flight International