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Netherlands selects Millennium to replace ageing Hercules

The Netherlands is to acquire five C-390 Millennium airlifters from Brazil (pictured) to replace four C-130 Hercules that have reached the end of their service lives. (Embraer)

The Netherlands has selected the Embraer C-390 Millennium to replace its ageing fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules airlifters.

The country's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the decision on 16 June, saying that it is to order five of the Brazilian-made C-390 jet transport aircraft to replace the four US-built C-130s that have reached the end of their service lives. Deliveries are to commence in 2026.

“The four C-130s have reached the end of their lifespan. Initially, it was the intention to continue flying with them until at least 2031, but they are less and less often deployable due to defects. It was therefore decided to replace them in 2020,” the MoD said. “Where initially the plan was to acquire four new aircraft, this will become five. There is a need for more flying hours, [following the recent] evacuations in Afghanistan in 2021 and the drastically changed security situation on Europe's eastern flank.”

Specifically, the MoD is looking to increase the number of annual flying hours from 2,400 to 4,000 to meet not only its own expanded requirement, but also those of Europe. “The intention is that the C-390 also participates in the European Air Transport Command. Adding the C-390 will benefit the pooling and sharing of capacities in a European context,” the ministry said.

The MoD noted in its announcement that, because of these increased flying hours, the estimated costs of the procurement programme will also increase. “Initially, the assumption was between EUR250 million [USD263 million] and EUR1 billion. That will now be between EUR1 billion and EUR2.5 billion,” the ministry said.

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