Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific team to offer Pilatus PC-21 as RAAF PC-9 replacement

9107 Pilatus PC-21 (cn 115, civil reg 9V-YYG) of Republic of Singapore Air Force, 130 “Eagle” Sqn, based at RAAF Base Pearce, at RAAF Pearce Air Show – Sat 19 May 2012.
9107 Pilatus PC-21 (cn 115, civil reg 9V-YYG) of Republic of Singapore Air Force, 130 “Eagle” Sqn, based at RAAF Base Pearce, at RAAF Pearce Air Show – Sat 19 May 2012.
Taking off to fly in the massed “Thunderbird” formation with RAAF PC-9/A aircraft.
The PC-21 replaced the SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainer in the Republic of Singapore Air Force from June 2008.
The PC-21 is also being offered to the RAAF as a PC-9/A replacement, and there would be benefits if both the RSAF and RAAF operated the type at Pearce.
Photo © Matt Hayes

4 October 2013 © David Eyre

Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific have teamed to compete for the ADF’s Air 5428 pilot training system requirement.

The three companies are already teamed to provide a similar training system for the Republic of Singapore Air Force, training pilots using the Pilatus PC-21 aircraft the under the RSAF Basic Wings programme at RAAF Base Pearce, north of Perth. There may be some operational benefits from the RAAF using the same aircraft type as the RAAF at Pearce.

In September 2013, BAE Systems announced that it would team with CAE and Beechcraft, to use the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II.

Boeing, Thales and Raytheon are also expected to bid for the requirement.

Air 5428 will see the CT4 and PC-9/A replaced by one integrated training system and aircraft type, operated by the successful contractor. Currently, ADF pilots receive initial training on CT-4 aircraft with the Basic Flight Training School (BFTS) at Tamworth, NSW before going to the RAAF’s No. 2 Flight Training School (2FTS) at RAAF Pearce for advanced training on the Pilatus PC-9/A, before being posted to an operational squadron.

David Eyre

President, Aviation Association of WA Inc

8 thoughts on “Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific team to offer Pilatus PC-21 as RAAF PC-9 replacement

  • January 27, 2014 at 8:37 pm
    Permalink

    What capabilities are the RAAF trying to replace? PC9-A is a perfectly good airframe- plenty of hours left in them? Why not just upgrade?

    Reply
    • January 29, 2014 at 11:59 am
      Permalink

      Hi Steven,
      The AIR5428 official requirements are available here: http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/id/dcp/html/air/AIR5428.html
      From what I understand, it is up to the tendering contractors to decide which aircraft is best suited.
      The PC-9/A aircraft has been in service since 1987 (27 years), so if one of the bidders decides to use the existing PC-9 fleet, the aircraft would require structural and avionics upgrades to meet the requirements. Airflite currently provides maintenance support to the PC-9 fleet, and it has not yet submitted its bid.
      The Pilatus PC-21 and Beech T-6 have already been put forward by other bidders.
      Regards,
      David Eyre

      Reply
  • January 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks David,

    I suppose I’m interested in the current aircraft on the table. Assuming an upgrade to the PC-9A fleet is not feasible or desirable, (let’s further assume for airframe fatigue-life reasons or similarly irreconcilible reasons), there seem to be some oddities at play, when one considers the relative design ages of the T6 and PC21- unless I’m reading it wrong. Given that the T-6 and the PC-9A are effectively the same aircraft (avionics aside, accepted), it seems odd that in bidding the -21, Pilatus appear to have brought a knife to a fist-fight.

    They both have the same set of requirements to read from, so is it just interpretation of the same that means 2 such different systems could satisfy them? It’d be interesting to see if Airflite do anything, if my leading assumption proves erroneous…

    Reply
    • January 30, 2014 at 11:31 am
      Permalink

      Hi Steven,
      The differences between the Beech T-6 and PC-9 extend to more than just avionics, and although the T-6 was meant to be derived from the PC-9, it underwent significant design changes:
      • New aft fuselage for better handling qualities
      • Redesigned wing for durability and damage tolerance
      • New canopy shape and structure for pressurization, birdproofing
      • New avionics
      • New cowling for reduced maintenance time
      • Enhanced engine (PT6A-68 instead of PT6A-62), with increased horsepower for aerobatics, digital engine control for jet-like performance, and a continuous initial separator for foreign object damage (FOD) protection
      The T-6 is 22% heavier than the PC-9 as a result of these changes and is considered to be almost wholly a different design, though they do look similar.
      The PC-21 is already in use at RAAF Pearce with the Singapore Air Force, so there may be some maintenance savings in the RAAF acquiring that type, as the majority of the RAAF’s fleet will be located at Pearce.
      The T-6C has just been ordered by the RNZAF (11 aircraft), so that aircraft may lead to maintenance cost savings for Australia and New Zealand.
      Regards,
      David

      Reply
  • January 30, 2014 at 7:49 pm
    Permalink

    So from a performance basis the T-6C wins out against a PC-9A, but my initial regarding the PC-21 remains- it outperforms both the T6 and the PC-9 in every respect, so how can one set of requirements be so differently interpreted to as to be satisfied by effectively different generation aircraft? That’s the apparent contradiction I don’t understand.

    Reply
    • January 30, 2014 at 10:06 pm
      Permalink

      Perhaps they are hoping that extra performance in the PC-21 will give them the edge over the competition. Similar to the USAF tanker replacement program – the A330 (KC-45) reportedly won as it exceeded the performance requirements (However Boeing protested about that being unfair and won it back with the 767 / KC-46).

      Reply
  • January 31, 2014 at 6:13 pm
    Permalink

    It could come down to a growth/ evolution thing. If the selected a/c has spare capacity now, it’s more likely to be able to deliver the required capability through the life of the programme given changing requirements, training capability, reduction in hours spent on lead-in fighters prior to OCU etc etc. The risk against delivery of capability through-life might effectively be de-risked…

    Reply
  • May 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm
    Permalink

    The PC-9 is limited by the main wing spar’s fatigue life. In summary the wings would have to be replaced to extend the fatigue life as the main spar upper and lower caps are the wing in effect and cannot be replaced, (or the flight spectrum significantly reduced).

    The PC-21 is completely different to the PC-9 in that its pre-dominantly CNC machined as opposed to being rivetted from sheet. The current PC-21’s for the Singapore airforce are under a lease arrangement rather than being bought outright. The PC-21 cockpit is more suited to to simulating modern day jets even though the PC-9 cockpit was upgraded with new avionics.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *