Mentor1 Program

Boosting fast jet training for the French Air Force 

Since 2016, we’ve been proud to work alongside our partner Dassault Aviation as we help train pilots at the Fighter Aviation School at Air Base 709 Cognac Châteaubernard.

Following the success of our existing PC-21 training systems in the French Air Force (FAF), and to help modernise pilot and aircrew training, the Mentor1 program was awarded to Babcock in 2021 to provide an additional nine aircraft in collaboration with Pilatus Aircraft.

By providing support, spares and ground-based training systems, Mentor1 grows the PC-21 fleet by more than a third.

The contract initially spans five years, with the option to extend for an additional five one-year periods for systems support. By adding nine more aircraft to the existing fleet of 17 PC -21s, the programme will enhance the FAF smart platform’s training capabilities for jet pilots.  

At a glance:

  • The provision of nine additional PC-21 aircraft for the French Air and Space Force
  • Including support, spare parts and ground training systems
  • The construction of two additional buildings on the Cognac Air Base 709

Cutting-edge avionics

The avionics systems of the PC-21 bring a whole new level of immersion for trainee crews, simulating the environment of a fighter aircraft and offering new capabilities to complete the training program at the Fighter Jet Pilot Academy. The new aircraft come with additional fuel tanks to enable longer flights and are equipped with night vision devices – crucial operational tools that fighter squadrons can now get familiar with during their training to prepare them for future flying.    

Scaling up for success

As part of the contract, Cognac Formation Aero (CFA), a Babcock France-Dassault Aviation joint venture, constructed two additional buildings and refurbished a hangar on the Cognac Air Base 709.

The new facilities provide ample space to accommodate an expanded workforce and effectively fulfil the requirements of the contract. The renovated hangar not only increases industrial capacity but also improves the efficiency of maintenance operations for the aircraft, including support, spare parts and ground training systems.

Mentor1 in numbers: 

  • 5-year contract
  • Providing 9 additional PC-21 aircraft to the original 17 already in operation
  • 40 new jobs created in the Cognac region

Find out more