Embraer C-390 Millennium Medium-sized transport aircraft
Embraer C-390 Millennium Medium-sized transport aircraft

Royal Netherlands Air Force to Replace C-130H Hercules fleet with C-390M Millennium

The Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands has chosen the C-390 from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer as the successor and replacement for its C-130H Hercules. The first aircraft should be delivered in 2026. The country becomes the third European nation to opt for the Brazilian-built airlifter after Hungary and Portugal. Announced by secretary of state for defence Christophe van der Maat on 16 June, the selection will lead to deliveries of the twinjet type later this decade. A C-130 replacement process was launched in 2020, after an earlier plan to continue operating the aircraft until 2031 was abandoned. The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s current Hercules “have reached the end of their lifespan”.

The decision also has been taken to increase the minimum hours flown annually by the Dutch tactical transport fleet from 2,400h to 4,000h. This was influenced by the coalition evacuation of personnel from Kabul, Afghanistan in 2021 and instability in eastern Europe following Russia’s late February invasion of Ukraine. These events “have underlined the importance of guaranteed availability of transport capacity for the armed forces. During research conducted in support its evaluation, the C-390M came out better than Lockheed Martin’s C-130J, which was seen as an alternative. The availability of the C-390M is higher, it scores better on a number of operational and technical requirements and it requires less maintenance.

Embraer C-390 Millennium Medium-sized transport aircraft

The C-390M will also participate in the European Air Transport Command (EATC). The EATC is the command centre that exercises the operational control of the majority of the aerial refueling capabilities and military transport fleets of a consortium of seven European Union (EU) member states. The incorporation of the C-390M will benefit the pooling and sharing of capabilities in a European context. As of January 2015, the combined fleet under the authority of the EATC represents 75% of the European air transport capacity. Located at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands, the command also bears a limited responsibility for exercises, aircrew training and the harmonisation of relevant national air transport regulations.

The Embraer C-390 Millennium is a medium-size, twin-engine, jet-powered military transport aircraft produced by the Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer. With a load capacity of 26 tonnes (57,000 lb), the aircraft can be configured to perform various conventional operations such as troop, VIP and cargo transportation, and more specialised logistical operations such as aerial refuelling as a tanker. It is the heaviest aircraft the company has made to date. The first production aircraft was delivered to the Brazilian Air Force on 4 September 2019. On 18 November 2019 during the Dubai Airshow, Embraer announced the aircraft’s new name for the global market, C-390 Millennium.