Aerial Warfare

Royal Australian Air Force to Buy 20 C-130J Super Hercules Aircrafts for A$9.8 Billion

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Royal Australian Air Force to Buy 20 C-130J Super Hercules Aircrafts for A$9.8 Billion
Royal Australian Air Force to Buy 20 C-130J Super Hercules Aircrafts for A$9.8 Billion

The Australian Government will purchase Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force for $9.8 billion. This will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with state of the art Super Hercules to meet the air transport needs of the future. The new acquisitions will replace and expand upon the 12 Hercules aircraft currently operated by Air Force with delivery of the first aircraft expected from late 2027. There will be significant benefits for Australian industry from the expanded fleet size, with opportunities to construct facilities and infrastructure and to sustain the aircraft. The Australian Defence Force relies on the C-130J Super Super Hercules aircraft for the deployment of personnel, equipment and humanitarian supplies. The iconic aircraft is regularly used in search and rescue missions, disaster relief and medical evacuation. The C-130J has been involved in almost every major Defence operation in recent decades, from Bougainville assistance and Timor-Leste peacekeeping through to conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently the aircraft supported Australia’s response to COVID-19 in the region, delivering vaccines and medical supplies, as well bushfire and flood response. The C-130J Hercules are made by Lockheed Martin and are being purchased from the United States. The aircraft will continue to be operated by No. 37 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond in New South Wales.

A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft from No. 37 Squadron, arrives at Nauru International Airport during Operation Render Safe.
A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft from No. 37 Squadron, arrives at Nauru International Airport during Operation Render Safe. (Photo by CPL Sam Price/Australian Government Department of Defence)

Quotes attributable to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP: “The C-130J Hercules is an important capability for our defence force, but also for Australia as a nation. From bushfire and flood emergencies across the country, the delivery of crucial supplies to the region during the COVID-19 pandemic and more than two decades supporting peacekeeping operations, this has and will continue to be a crucial asset. The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the ADF is equipped with the capabilities it needs to keep Australians safe, and this targeted expansion of the fleet size will do just that.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP: “The Government is ensuring the Australian Defence Force is equipped with brand new C-130J Hercules aircraft, and more of them, to respond to the wide range of challenges our nation will face in the future. Since 1999, the C-130J Hercules has served Australia across our region and beyond, proving to be a reliable workhorse in roles from humanitarian operations to conflict zones. Having 20 aircraft, up from 12, will mean more opportunities for local industry to sustain the aircraft, creating more Australian jobs. There’ll also be jobs associated with infrastructure redevelopments at RAAF Base Richmond.”

2023 marks the 65th anniversary of C-130 Hercules operations with the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1958, RAAF Base Richmond received the initial C-130A variant, the first to operate outside of the United States.
2023 marks the 65th anniversary of C-130 Hercules operations with the RAAF. In 1958, RAAF Base Richmond received the initial C-130A variant, the first to operate outside of the U.S.. (Photo by RAAF/Australian Government Department of Defence)

The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems. The C-130J is the newest version of the C-130 Hercules, and the only model currently in production. As of March 2022, 500 C-130J aircraft have been delivered to 26 operators in 22 countries. Externally similar to the classic Hercules in general appearance, the J-model features considerably updated technology. These differences include new Rolls-Royce AE 2100 D3 turboprop engines, Dowty R391 six-bladed composite scimitar propellers that have blade tips swept by 35 degrees, digital avionics (including head-up displays (HUDs) for each pilot), and reduced crew requirements. These changes have improved performance over its C-130E/H predecessors, such as 40% greater range, 21% higher maximum speed, and 41% shorter takeoff distance. Because of the deicing problem discovered late in the certification program, the C-130J includes a black rubber deicing boot at the bottom of the vertical fin, which is another visual difference from previous versions of the Hercules.

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