The purchase of 16 new planes has been signed: 14 for AGA and 2 for CLAEX

The Spanish Air Force will be one of the largest operators of the Pilatus PC-21 with 40 aircraft

Spain will be the largest operator of the Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainer in Europe, and the third largest in the world after Saudi Arabia and Australia.

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Contract signed for another 16 PC-21: 14 for AGA and 2 for CLAEX

In December you could already read here the news of the approval by the Spanish government of the purchase of another 16 PC-21 for the Air Force, which will be added to the 24 that were acquired in 2020. Of these 16 new aircraft, 14 will serve to replace the trainers of the Elementary School of the General Air Academy of San Javier, the ENAER T-35C Pillán, called E.26 Tamiz by the Air Force and in service for 35 years.

Two of the PC-21s already in service at the General Air Academy, E.27-04 792-04 and E.17-13 792-13 (Photo: Ejército del Aire.).

Today Pilatus has officially informed about this purchase on its website, after the signing of the acquisition contract between that Swiss company and the General Directorate of Armament and Material (DGAM) of the Ministry of Defense of Spain. Pilatus has indicated that the two remaining PC-21s will be for the Armament and Experimentation Logistics Center (CLAEX) of the Spanish Air Force, based in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), for experimental and test flights, Investigation and development. As the Spanish government announced in December, the contract signed with Pilatus includes two cockpit simulators for procedures training and a FFS flight simulator (Full Flight Simulator).

The PC-21 E.17-13 792-13. These planes are part of the 792 Squadron (Photo: Ejército del Aire.).

The Spanish Air Force is very satisfied with the PC-21

On its website, Pilatus includes some statements by Lieutenant Colonel Ildefonso Martínez-Pardo González, Commander of the Air Operations Group of the General Air Academy, stating: "Now in use with the Spanish Air and Space Force for over 18 months, the PC-21 integrated training system far exceeds our expectations. Its reliable and efficient powerplant, aerodynamics, safety systems and avionics make the PC-21 a highly versatile trainer, capable of performing any phase of flight training from the most elementary to the most advanced. Our relationship with Pilatus has been outstanding throughout, and a key factor for successful implementation. The excellent collaboration, professionalism and teamwork of everyone involved over the past three years have enabled us to roll out this PC-21 training course in record time without interruption to training."

The current T-35C elementary trainers at the General Air Academy (Photo: Ejército del Aire.).

14 PC-21s to replace a fleet of 36 T-35Cs

Although Spain will be the largest operator of the PC-21, the number of aircraft purchased is considerably lower than its predecessors, as we saw in December. The Spanish Air Force indicates on its website that in 1985 41 T-35 Pillán were purchased, in order to replace the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor and the Bücker Bü-131. Five of the T-35C Pillán, so 36 aircraft are still active. Now the fleet of elemental trainers will be reduced to 14 PC-21.

Something similar has happened with advanced trainers. The Spanish Air Force had 60 active CASA C-101 Aviojets, but only 24 PC-21s were purchased to replace them, At the moment there are no plans to replace the planes used by the Eagle Patrol, for example. The AFJT proposed by Airbus to replace part of the C-101 fleet has been on hold for some time due to lack of funds allocated by the Spanish government for its development.


Main photo: Ejército del Aire.

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