Formal Ceremony Held Last Week In Gaborone
A formal handover ceremony for the Botswana Defence Force PC-7 MkII Turbo Trainer Aircraft took place on Friday in Gaborone, Botswana. His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Botswana and Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, members of the Defence Council, Botswana Defence Force General Officers, Retired Generals, Senior Government Officials and Defence Attaches accredited to Botswana and a Pilatus delegation attended the event hosted by the Botswana Defence Force Commander Lt. Gen. Galebotswe.
This major milestone marks the successful completion of the delivery and entry into service of the five new BDF Pilatus PC-7 MkII aircraft. In his handover address, the Pilatus Chairman Oscar J. Schwenk noted that the relationship between the Botswana Defence Force and Pilatus dates back to 1989 when the supply contract for seven PC-7 trainer aircraft was signed. A relationship that became gradually stronger once the first aircraft became operational in 1990, 22 years ago. After two decades of successful operation with more than 28,000 hours flown and more than 70,000 landings recorded the ageing PC-7 aircraft reached the end of their operating life.
In 2011 the BDF opted to replace the PC-7 with the more advanced and modern PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft, a decision we believe was founded on the established relationship between us, the excellent track record of the PC-7, and a proven product such as the PC-7 MkII of which more than 160 aircraft have been sold. The PC-7 MkII has also been selected by other major Air Forces, the most recent order, subsequent to Botswana, being India.
The major program highlight was the acceleration of the schedule on request of the BDF, with all five new aircraft being delivered in 2012, four months earlier than originally planned. The old PC-7s have also been phased out and from 2013 onwards all cadets can be trained on the new modern PC-7 MkII aircraft. As in the past, the new aircraft will be operated and maintained by Botswana Defence Force personnel, supported by Pilatus Switzerland.
Pilatus said in a news release that, with the introduction of the new PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft which were formally handed over to the Botswana Defence Force, they "are extremely proud to continue our long standing relationship with Botswana."
(File image courtesy of Pilatus Aircraft)