The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) confirmed on Tuesday that the C-130J-30 turboprop is chosen to replace the current fleet of 12 Hercules aircraft received in 1999.
Also competing in the AIR 7404 Project were the Airbus A400M, the Kawasaki C-2 and the Embraer KC-390, but the Australian Ministry of Defense claimed 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 introducing substantial cost, schedule and capability risk”.
According to local media, the RAAF is expected to order 30 new C-130Js, six of them of the KC-130 variant, capable of tactical aerial refueling.
The agreement with Lockheed Martin is still pending approval from the Australian government, which is expected to take place in March 2023.
Competitors of the C-130J
The KC-390 even made a technical stop for refueling in Australia in 2017, en route to New Zealand, for demonstrations for the neighboring country’s Air Force. Embraer, however, has not given details on a proposal to the RAAF since then.
Of the four competitors, the C-130J is the slowest and carries the least payload. Tactical aerial refueling capability is also shared by the A400M and KC-390, which can transfer fuel to slower aircraft and helicopters.
Despite this, the Ministry of Defense defended the choice of ” a low risk, certified in all roles, proven, mature and affordable replacement aircraft that meets Australia’s air mobility needs”.