Spain will acquire 24 Pilatus PC-21 turboprop training aircraft to replace its Casa Aviojet C-101 jet trainers, confirming a worldwide trend that sees older jet training aircraft being succeeded by high-performance turboprops. Pilatus, whose PC-21 “clearly offered the best cost-quality ratio,” beat the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II and the Embraer Super Tucano to win the order.
Spain’s decision was announced on Nov. 26 on the government’s procurement platform, Plataforma de Contratacion del Sector Publico (PCSP), but it has not yet been formally announced by the Ministry of Defense or the Spanish Air Force.
According to PCSP, Pilatus will supply 24 PC-21 training aircraft and its Integrated Training System (ITS), more efficient and better adapted to the use of modern technologies, at a cost of €204.75 million, almost 10% less than the €225 million budget that had been authorized for the acquisition. The funds will be paid out in three annual instalments (€71.5m in 2020, €71m in 2021 and €62.5m in 2022).
In addition to the aircraft, the ITS will include an emergency ejection trainer, two cockpit simulators and two network-connected flight simulators, as well as an initial logistics package.
The schedule for deliveries is very tight, as the first C-101 will be gradually retired from September 2021 to 2027, which requires that the PC-21 be ready to begin basic training in the 2021-22 academic year. Consequently, the first six PC-21s and one simulator are to be delivered by March 2020 to allow training of the first eight instructors. The PC-21 will be known as E.27 in Spanish service.
Initially, the PC-21s will replace the T-35 Tamiz for elementary flight training, and the C-101 for basic training, but no decision has yet been taken about the replacement of the remaining C-101s and F-5Bs used for advanced training, and which will likely be decided around the middle of the next decade.