Team 21 submits AIR 5428 PTS bid

The Team 21 grouping of Lockheed Martin Australia, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific are offering the Pilatus PC-21 advanced trainer for AIR 5428. (Pilatus)
The Team 21 grouping of Lockheed Martin Australia, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific are offering the Pilatus PC-21 advanced trainer for AIR 5428. (Pilatus)

The ‘Team 21’ grouping of Lockheed Martin Australia, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific submitted its bid for the ADF’s AIR 5428 pilot training system on March 31.

The bid, based around the Pilatus PC-21 advanced trainer, is similar to that which the same partners manage the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Basic Wings Course (BWC) program based at RAAF Pearce. The BWC is a 20 year program managed by the industry partners, and has been running for eight years.

“Team 21 offers superior performance, a proven team in Australia and capability for the future,” Lockheed Martin Australia CEO, Raydon Gates said in a statement. “We have an established track record and have now graduated 20 classes from a Pilatus PC-21 based pilot training program at RAAF Base Pearce. BWC has very similar mission and support systems as proposed for AIR 5428, significantly reducing risk to the Commonwealth.”

The AIR 5428 project seeks to replace the RAAF’s Pilatus PC-9/A advanced trainers and the CT-4E basic trainers of the industry-run BFTS with new aircraft and a deeper level of industry support from 2017.

At least one other bid is expected to come from a teaming of BAE Systems Australia, Beechcraft and CAE Australia with a Beech T-6C based solution.


  1. says

    Bit early to say Raymond considering the tenders only closed four days ago. Both teams have good records in managing
    such systems and both have good products, so I suggest it will be a tightly run thing.

  2. Raymond says

    Thanks, interesting to see whether they head for the Pilatus-offered PC-9 replacement and BWC platform, or go for what the US use and what NZ will soon use.

  3. Peter says

    The actual aircraft is only part of the equation, what is required in the tender is the whole training program, including simulators / software etc. The RAAF has expressed some preference for initial flight screening and the BFTS role to be located at RAAF Base East Sale, to provide a 100% military environment. The NSW Gov’t have indicated some further investment in Tamworth facilities ( about $6.8M I heard ),if the BAE consortium is successful to continue the local employment with the current arrangements. Of course, initial flight screening and the BFTS training is not just for RAAF pilots, but Army & Navy and some other countries – Brunei, PNG also. So the final decision will have military, political and budget influences to consider. Over at Pearce, the current PC-9s to possible PC-21s ( if successful ) would seem a logical succession for instructors & technical support – maybe a bit like the decision to get Super Hornets to replace the F-111s due to the RAAFs wealth of experience with Classic Hornets. It will be interesting when the decision is finally made. I presume The Roulettes will get upgraded aircraft also.

  4. adammudhen says

    @William; F/A-18F, C-17, E-7A, MH-60R, CH-47F aren’t European, BUT, the T-6 is based on the Pilatus PC-9, so in a way, you’re right; a European aircraft is likely to win lol

  5. says

    As Peter says, 5428 is so much more than just a PC-9 replacement program, so the aircraft being offered is not the only consideration. It may also bring together BFTS and CFS and possibly 2FTS at a common location, and will involve a much deeper level of industry operation and support than the current system/s.

  6. Raymond says

    Andrew – does that mean that should Tamworth be successful that CFS could move there from East Sale?

    What sort of aircraft numbers are being talked about? I understand it’s a whole system type approach, however would a 1:1 replacement of airframes be required for this?

  7. says

    No, it’s more likely BAE will submit a Tamworth-based BFTS as an option in its bid, and if their bid is successful, in the period between down-select and contract signature the ADF will weigh the merits of retaining it there or placing it at East Sale. I believe East Sale is still the ADF’s preferred location for CFS.
    I’m not sure if a set number of aircraft has been specified in the RFT, or whether the ADF has merely called for a set rate-of-effort (likely with surge clauses) and leave it to the bidders to specify how many they need to meet that rate.

  8. Raymond says

    Okay, thanks again. I understand there are approx. 60 PC-9/A’s in service (from an original 67) and around 25-30 CT-4B’s with BAE, so I imagine total numbers would need to be in the realm of 80+?

    I assume that the same aircraft will be replacing both the PC-9’s and CT-4’s? Is the intention that a PC-21 or T-6C solution would replace both basic and advanced training aircraft in one? Would it be economical / feasible to use either of these for ab initio training as well?


  9. Raymond says

    You also mentioned that it may possibly include 2FTS at a common location. Were this to be the case (BFTS, CFS & 2FTS all together at the one base), what would be the most likely scenario for this? Do you mean that, all things considered working in favour, that 2FTS could be in line for a move to East Sale as well as BFTS?

  10. says

    It’s possible they could be at a common location, but I’m not sure. Several years ago one of the early possible bidders was talking about using the airstrips at East Sale and West Sale to support training ops, although I’m not sure how far this progressed.
    As for airframe numbers, as far as I know it’s up to the bidders to be able to justify how many airframes they need and whether a single type can support BFTS and CFS/2FTS training requirements.

  11. Peter says

    One major problem with East Sale is the weather. For flight screening & BFTS, the trainees need a training area that has relatively predicable weather for flight ops, and history shows East Sale does not offer as many days “available” as Tamworth. However in saying this, the motivation that is passed to students is huge when they could mix at East Sale with Roulette pilots / CFS pilots / King Air pilots in the mess, gym etc. Is shows them a light at the end of the tunnel.
    Initial flight screening has a high failure rate , so there’s considerable cost if Pearce was selected for both this & the BFTS role because the majority of applicants would be from the eastern states, so investing in flying them to Perth with a subsequent high failure rate also needs consideration.
    Any plus for Sale / Gippsland would be a kick in the guts for Tamworth.
    There’s a huge amount to consider, and someone’s going to need a pretty cool software program to get a good result from the pluses and minuses each for Tamworth , East Sale & Pearce !

  12. says

    In the early days of AIR 5428 I remember being shown weather comparison charts for East Sale and for Tamworth from more than one bidder, and from memory they came up pretty close. While Tamworth is generally considered to have more benign weather most of the time, I think it was also shown to have more severe storms and lower hot weather performance margins in summer.