Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA July-August 2017 Contents TRAINING
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half a dozen nations. Thanks to a 1600 hp engine
and slick aerodynamics, the PC-21 gives a jet-like
experience for a turboprop price. Virtual radar and
weapons simulation and datalink for multi-aircraft
training allow it to perform basic to advanced training.
Pilatus delivered the first six of 19 to Singapore in
April 2008, replacing 32 Alenia S-211 jets.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has
outsourced its training to Lockheed Martin, which has
a 20 year contract to support its Basic Wings Course
- Lockheed Martin provides aircraft, maintenance,
simulators and instruction at Royal Australian Air Force
Base Pearce in Western Australia.
Advanced training is carried out on 12 Leonardo
M-346 Master lead-in fighter/trainers, ordered in
September 2010 through an ST Aerospace and
Boeing consortium under a 20 year US $241 million
contract. They were delivered between 2012 and
2014 and replaced the A/TA-4SU Super Skyhawks at
Cazaux air base in France, where the RSAF conducts
its Fighter Wings Course. Student pilot training on the
M-346 began in March 2013.
Australia was impressed with Singapore’s Basic
Wings PC-21 course and ordered 49 of the type in
December 2015 under the AIR 5428 pilot training
system, via the Team 21 Lockheed Martin Australia-led
consortium. This provides basic and advanced training
for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Army
Aviation helicopter pilots under a US $900 million
programme. The first instructors began training on
the type in January 2016 and the first two PC-21s
arrived in Australia in February this year, but the initial
pilot course is only scheduled to begin in early 2019,
helping Australia become a fifth generation air force
along with the introduction of the Lockheed Martin
F-35 into service. The PC-21s are replacing the
roughly 60 PC-9A trainers and also mark the end of
BAE Systems’ contract for basic training on CT-4B
Airtrainers, in 2019.
Graduates will move from the PC-21 to the 33
BAE Systems Hawk Mk 127s. These provide combat
training, air-to-air refuelling training and night vision
flying. They are being upgraded under the AIR 5438
Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Programme,
allowing them to train Super Hornet and F-35 pilots.
According to the recent Defence White Paper, they
will be replaced under an AU$4-5 billion programme
between 2022 and 2033.
Nearby, New Zealand became the first Asia-Pacific
nation to order the Hawker Beechcraft T-6C Texan II,
replacing its dozen piston-engined Pacific Aerospace
Ltd CT-4E Airtrainers, which were retired in December
2014. Eleven T-6Cs were delivered between August
2014 and April 2015 and by January 2016 had
accumulated 1,000 flying hours.
Aside from its FA-50PH acquisition, and as part
of defence modernisation, the Philippines hoped
to acquire six Super Tucanos primarily for close air
support. However, this has been a difficult process
that has dragged on for years, but it seems to finally
be moving ahead. The Super Tucano, L-39, KT-1 and
T-6 Texan II are amongst possible contenders, but the
Super Tucano is the preferred platform. At present the
Philippine Air Force flies several surviving S-211s, a
number of T-41s and more than 20 SF-260M/F/TPs.
The mainstay trainer of the Malaysian Air Force is
the PC-7, which has been acquired in batches since
the early 1980s, starting with an initial 44 Mk Is.
Between 2001 and 2015 Malaysia acquired 24
Mk IIs and on 27 July 2016 took delivery of the first
two of the latest batch and the first of three H120
helicopter to beef up its training capabilities. It also
flies SME MD3-160 AeroTiga piston-engine basic
trainers and on the jet side, seven surviving MB-
339CMs and several Hawk Mk 108s.
Thailand’s most significant trainer purchase
recently was four T-50THs, to be delivered in 2018,
replacing 40 L-39ZA/ARTs that were delivered in
the 1990s. These were upgraded by Elbit with new
avionics and Western weapons capability, allowing
the L-39 to perform as lead-in trainer for the F-16.
Other jet trainers in Thailand’s inventory include
20 modernised Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets. Six
Diamond DA 42s are used for multi-engine training,
while single engine training is done on some two
dozen CT-4A/E Airtrainers, half a dozen T-41Ds and
two dozen PC-9Ms.
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, Sri Lanka flies a
half a dozen K-8s, ten PT-6s delivered in 2000
and a number of Cessna 150 trainers. Although
it is looking to acquire 8-12 new fighters, there is
at present no talk of acquiring new trainers. The
Royal Brunei Air Force has four PC-7 Mk IIs in
service, delivered in the late 1990s, and the Royal
Cambodian Air Force has four modernised L-39Zs.
Cambodia also acquired six Tecnam P92 Echo 3
trainers for its reconnaissance squadron.
T-7 (JASDF photo)
Australia was impressed with Singapore’s Basic Wings PC-21 course and
ordered 49 of the type in December 2015 under the AIR 5428 pilot training
system, via the Team 21 Lockheed Martin Australia-led consortium.
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