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Lockheed’s “Team 21” finally confirmed as AIR 5428 winning bidder

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 6, 2015
A RSAF PC-21 and RAAF PC-9. (Defence)
File image of a Singaporean PC-21 with a RAAF PC-9. Under AIR 5428 the RAAF’s PC-9s will be replaced by the PC-21. (Defence)

A Lockheed Martin-led teaming will provide the RAAF’s new Pilot Training System operating 49 Pilatus PC-21 training aircaft from RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria and Pearce in Western Australia.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews made the long-anticipated announcement that the ‘Team 21’ consortium of Lockheed Martin, Pilatus and Hawker Pacific had been selected as preferred tenderer for the RAAF’s Air 5428 Pilot Training System project during a visit to East Sale on Sunday.

The new pilot training system will see ADF basic flying training currently undertaken at the Basic Flying Training School (BFTS) with BAE Systems at Tamworth in NSW relocate to East Sale, already home to the RAAF’s Central Flying School (CFS), while advanced training will continue to be conducted from RAAF Base Pearce, home to the RAAF’s 2 Flying Training School (2FTS).

“The new pilot training system will enable us to use the latest in simulator technology that can be adapted to student needs and different learning styles to allow students to progress through training faster,” Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies said in a statement.

“This will create efficiencies for pilot training and allow more flexibility for our student pilots.”

Efficiencies will also mean the new contractor-supported Pilot Training System will see an increase in ADF pilot training throughput despite operating fewer aircraft than the current system.

According to Minister Andrews’ statement the new pilot training system will, from 2019, graduate 105 pilots a year, up from 77 currently, with an annual intake at RAAF Base East Sale of up to 165 trainee pilots. Of the 49 PC-21s to supplied under AIR 5428, 22 will be based at Sale.

East Sale’s gain is Tamworth’s pain under the AIR 5428 decision.

Team 21 was selected ahead of a competing bid from BAE Systems, which together with CAE Australia and Beechcraft had offered a solution based around the Beech T-6C aircraft. BAE had proposed to continue conducting basic training at Tamworth, but, as required under the tender, had offered West Sale as an alternative option for basic training.

The decision will be a blow to BAE Systems’ extensive flying training operation at Tamworth. BAE will continue to provide ADF pilot training there through until the end of 2019, and does also provide military flying training for Singapore, Brunei and Papua New Guinea, but the decision seems likely to see a major rationalisation of the Tamworth operation.

The loss of BFTS from Tamworth Airport will also likely see the regional NSW city’s air traffic control tower closed.

But for East Sale: “The training system will also support approximately 162 jobs as part of the ongoing training of students at RAAF Base East Sale,” the Minister said.

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Comments (22)

  • Bill


    Great choice of aircraft, but interesting to see how the training bases will be rationalized. I wonder what the locals will think about the loss of the Tamworth tower?

  • OldMate1


    Nice aircraft, the PC9 served the RAAF well. Not sure about the BFTS base location. With over 60% more rainy days a year than Tamworth and a bird population to match Amazon it can’t have been the flying aspects of flying training that made Sale tempting. Maybe RAAFies are keen to live there… Tamworth must be very happy for the approximate 162 people who will have jobs now in Sale. Nice aircraft though…

  • Jason


    About time, not convinced it’ll mean the end on the TMW tower though..

  • chuck


    Another relocation of Defence aviation training from a fair weather location to…. well…. another marginal electorate perhaps? Maybe availability of flying days, and diversity of terrain are irrelevant these days?

  • Tim Cheney


    Will the RAAF Aerobatic Team, The Roulettes, getting the PC-21??

  • Pakloy


    Just wondering what they gonna do with the still serviceable PC9’s after 2019?

  • B. Harrison


    Putting new pilots into PC-21’s would like putting new drivers in Ferrari’s compared to the basic “Toyota Corolla” CT-4’s. Is that a good idea? Not only that, but they will be “driving ” these “Ferrari’s” in the lousy weather of East Sale compared to the fine weather that usually Tamworth provides. Just sayin.

  • G4george


    No surprise they are moving to Sale, as that is the hometown of defence minister Kevin Andrews, a political dog act if I ever saw one.

  • Thomas


    Upon initial introduction of the PC-9, the PC-9 ab-initio trainer. Guess the RAAF will have to relearn their lesson….

    The Texan 2 (T6) is just an updated PC9 which the USAF and USN have only relatively recently started using. PC21 is a large leap forward from that aircraft (having flown it).

  • Mark


    I’ve lived in Tamworth and more recently Sale. Tamworth’s weather is sunnier but possibly too consistent, if all you want is fair weather pilots Tamworth is okay. Terrain around Sale is more variable, only a short flight between the Victorian alps and the sea. Both places are held by the National Party so zero sum game from that point of view. Perhaps it was a rational decision.

  • Peter


    Currently the BAE operation at Tamworth also provides all Flight Screening for the ADF, which is the selection process prior to gaining acceptance for flight training. It screens many many more applicants than are actually selected (high failure rate), so I would presume that will continue after 2019 and the PC-21 arrival. I cannot imagine Flight Screening on a PC-21 ! So some demand for ATC will continue at Tamworth, as BAE will want to continue to get a return on their investment there, together with the work they currently do for Singapore, PNG & Brunei. Maybe BAE will try to add to this list as capacity becomes available.
    The PC-21s can be “de-tuned” ( some systems turned down or off ) so that initial flight training ( BFTS) & 2FTS can use this aircraft together with a large increase in simulator time.. New Zealand recently retired their CT-4s and all initial training is on their new T-6 Texans, I’m sure they chose this method after other countries proving this pathway.. The PC-9s are getting past their frame time & existing systems are not current with preparing trainee pilots for fast-jets, just imagine the aircraft progressions for a pilot trainee – PC-9 to Hawk 127 to F-35 ! And there are no 2 seat F-35s so your first flight is solo. The difference between a PC-9 and PC-21 is chalk and cheese, so initial introduction at BFTS level to the PC-21 is a no-brainer, as is the upgrades to our Hawk 127 to 128 standard (plus vastly improved sims & training systems for both ).
    After 2019, I imagine the PC-9s will be pooled to provide the best aircraft for the Roulettes & 4 Sqn at Willytown to continue using for some time, then maybe an additional purchase of PC-21s as required.

  • Craigy


    Project Air5428 has been underway long before the coalition took office 2 years ago. A requirement of the tender was for the training to be conducted at Sale. To suggest this decision is to sure up a marginal seat is misplaced.

    When I went through pilots course, I started at Point Cook. We didn’t lose many days flying due weather and I see that this will be no different at Sale.

  • Blacky


    Eh Eh!! Awww whats becoming of eh eh bae?…. KEVIN!!!

  • Paul


    Nice choice both T6 & PC21 are nice Aircraft- but since the PC21 is such a hot ship why not save money by purchasing some new CT4E trainers with EFIS cockpits from Pacific Aerospace, as they would be more suitable to trainess with no flight experience, and operate them from Tamworth.

    Pacific Aerospace state on their website its a very suitable choice prior to T6 or PC21


    That way the 21’s wont run out of airframe hours like the 9’s have considering fewer have been purchased yet more Pilots are planned to be trained. SIMs can probably only take you so far

  • John


    I’m not surprised by many of the comments from those who think that all defence facilities should be based in NSW. Get over yourselves.

  • John Wharf


    My father was transferred to RAAF East Sale in 1948 when Central Flying School was moved there.
    I remember him telling me of the exhausting process that preceded the decision to house CFS at East Sale.
    Of course the geographic location was considered but also topographical and meteorological conditions, including hours of sunlight,rainfall,wind, fog etc .
    No doubt the decision makers would have revisited these criteria and chosen Sale for its perfect location and infrastructure, rather than where Kevin Andrews, Danny O.Brien and his predecessor Peter Ryan choose to live.

  • Allan


    A great win for the RAAF and future students. From all reports a world beater in the training category. From PC-21 to whichever aircraft the student is lucky enough to progress to. What an amazing aircraft to start your flying career with.

  • CTR Tamworth 30nm diameter, CTR East Sale 100nm diameter. Don’t confuse Melbourne weather with East Gippsland. Totally diiferent. From Sale to east much less cloud; much more sun; warmer; less rain. Need cloud to properly gain experience under IFR conditions.

  • Gary


    A simple google check would confirm that whilst you are correct that Sale is MINDEF’s place of birth, it is not in his Electorate of Menzies. Sale is in Parliamentary Secretary’s electorate. Perhaps the political undertone you refer to, is not entirely correct!

  • Tom


    the PC21 is configurable for basic or advanced by derating the engine and simplifying the EFIS by the flick of a switch. It will grow with the pilots.

    I wouldn’t put much store in Brunei staying at Tamworth either…..

  • Des


    I find it odd that BAE sold the PC 9 and then, recently, the PC21 to the Saudi’s yet went with the T6 for the Australian bid.

  • Malki


    Tamworth’s weather isn’t that great, I grew up there and moved to Sydney a week before my 21st. The weather can be fantastic but damn hot in summer and freeze your nuts in winter but the general average on weather is usually pretty good – no doubt better than Sale. Pity for the locals that have moved there because of the flight training – probably not a great number though. Hopefully the tower will remain in operation too.

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