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French Air Force buys another nine PC-21 aircraft


July 19, 2021
Wings Staff

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The Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace will hold a fleet of 26 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft for training. (Photo: Pilatus Aircraft)

The Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace has ordered nine Pilatus PC-21s and additional systems for training purposes, which closely follows the French Air Force’s 2017 purchase of 17 PC-21s.

The aircraft, replacing twin-engine jet trainers, will be stationed at the Cognac-Châteaubernard air base from 2023, where PC-21s have been in use since 2018. The first French pilots concluded their training on PC-21s there in 2020.

In addition to Switzerland and Spain, France is the third European nation to adopt the PC-21 training system. More than 230 PC-21s are now in service with nine air forces worldwide. The PC-21 is also used to train future test pilots at the Empire Test Pilots’ School in Boscombe Down, England.

Under the new French deal, procurement authority Direction générale de l’armement (DGA), signed the agreement with F-AIR 21 (Cognac Formation Aero SAS France), with Pilatus acting as the exclusive subcontractor for the supply of the nine PC-21s and other ground-based training systems and spare parts.

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“French evaluations are highly professional, which again proves to us that we offer the world’s best training system in this market,” said Markus Bucher, CEO, Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. “I am delighted that the Armée de l’air et de l’espace has opted for further PC-21s. Nous vous remercions de faire confiance à Pilatus et à notre PC-21 – L’Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace pourra toujours compter sur notre meilleur service client!»

Pilatus states the single-engine turboprop PC-21 is far more cost-effective to operate that a conventional jet trainer.