Lockheed Martin Australia, Pilatus Aircraft and Hawker Pacific have been chosen as preferred tenderers to provide the Commonwealth with a defence pilot training system in a deal worth $2 billion over the next 25 years.
The long-awaited announcement was made by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews on Sunday.
The “Team 21” consortium will provide the RAAF’s new Pilot Training System operating 49 Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft from RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria and Pearce in Western Australia.
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies AO, CSC said that the new training system is about much more than just acquiring a new aircraft.
“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,” Air Marshal Davies said.
“This will create efficiencies for pilot training and allow more flexibility for our student pilots.”
BAE Systems is the current operator of basic flying training for the ADF, operating a school at Tamworth, New South Wales.
That contract will end in 2019, and the Project 21 team will move the basic training school to RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria. From 2019 there will be an annual intake of up to 165 trainee pilots, which will increase in the number of graduates from 77 to 105 pilots each year.
The project is expected to generate more than 500 new full time equivalent jobs over the contract period and will be a major boost for Gippsland and Victoria.
“The Government is committed to safeguarding the future of the sector and its workers. We’ve identified defence technology as one of the strong growth areas to be targeted by our $200 million Future Industries Fund,” said Minister for Industry Lily D’Ambrosio in a statement.
“This is great news for Sale, Gippsland and Victoria. It will see enormous growth and local jobs flowing to the region Victoria’s economy is growing strong and leading the nation. We’re working hard to attract more investment, create high-wage, high skill jobs and get our state back to work.”
Victoria’s defence industry has an annual turnover of about $1.9 billion. It includes more than 300 businesses and directly employs approximately 6,000 people who manufacture equipment and provide services for defence activities.