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Australia to replace Super Hercules fleet with new C-130Js

Australia has selected the latest C-130J Hercules variant to replace older model aircraft of the same type that were acquired from 1999. (Lockheed Martin)

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is to replace its fleet of 12 Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules tactical transports with a new and expanded fleet of the same type, the country's Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 1 November.

The DoD said in a statement that a number of aircraft manufacturers had provided information on all available medium air mobility options but the new C-130J platform had been identified as the preferred capability for the requirement.

“Defence has identified that the new C-130J aircraft represents the only option that meets all of Australia's capability requirements and assures Defence's medium air mobility capability without substantial cost, schedule, and capability risk,” the DoD said.

“As a result, new C-130J aircraft will be the only option that Defence will progress for government approval under Project Air 7404 Phase 1 in 2023.”

No details of numbers, cost, or schedule were provided.

However, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice-president Greg Ulmer disclosed in November 2021 that the RAAF had requested details for the potential supply of 30 C-130J Hercules – 24 C-130J-30s and six KC-130J air-to-air refuelling variants.

In addition to the RAAF's Airbus KC-30A tanker fleet, the KC-130Js would provide a hose-and-drogue refuelling capability for the RAAF's 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet multirole fighters and 11 Growler EA-18G electronic attack aircraft, as well as allied hose-and-drogue-capable fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

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