The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is to adjust the composition of its planned future Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules fleet to reflect the recent loss of an aircraft on operations in Iraq.
The RAF fields both the ‘short-bodied’ C-130J (designated C5 in RAF service) and ‘long-bodied’ C-130J-30 (C4) variants of the Hercules. As stated in the country’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of 2015, the RAF at that time planned to divest its 10 C-130Js while retaining only its 14 C-130J-30s.
However, in June of this year Jane’s reported that one of these C-130J-30s was recently abandoned in Iraq following heavy landing, leaving just 13 in the inventory. On 9 August an MoD spokesperson told Jane’s that it is still the intention to field 14 Hercules. Though this will necessitate the retention of one C-130J, the spokesperson noted that the exact composition of the fleet has yet to be determined.
The MoD’s comment to Jane’s came on the back of a US Air Force (USAF) solicitation for a centre-wing box (CWB) replacement effort for one C-130J and 13 C-130J-30 aircraft that was issued the day before. While the request for information (RFI) referred only to the USAF and made no mention of a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer, the number and variant of aircraft suggested that this requirement may be for the United Kingdom given that the RAF is the only customer that plans to operate the C-130J/C-130J-30 in numbers that match those set out in the RFI (something that has now been borne out by the MoD).
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