Austria to replace C-130 Hercules with Embraer KC-390 – report

The country’s Air Force would have decided in favor of the Brazilian military transport aircraft, but the purchase would be made through the Netherlands

The KC-390 Millennium would have been chosen as a replacement for three C-130K turboprops in the Austrian Air Force, says Kronen Zeitung, citing government sources.

Austria has been considering acquiring new military transport aircraft for some time, including the new C-130J version of the Hercules, however, they would have weighed in on the better performance of the KC-390, a twin-engine jet equipped with components widely used in commercial aviation such as the V2500 engines.

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The acquisition of an undisclosed number of aircraft would be made through a very unusual arrangement, said the outlet. Instead of ordering the KC-390s directly from Embraer, Austria would receive them via the Netherlands, another airlifter customer.

The Royal Dutch Air Force announced the Millennium as a replacement aircraft for its C-130s in 2022, but has not yet signed a contract with Embraer, which is expected in the coming months.

According to Krone Zeitung, the Dutch government will expand the order to up to 10 aircraft and then resell them to the Austrians.

Austrian C-130K (Adrian Pingstone)

The reason given by the Austrian media for not closing an agreement with Embraer was the corruption scandal surrounding the purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon fighters in the 2000s.

To avoid this risk, Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner has sought parallel agreements with other allied countries.

Austria has been eyeing the C-390 for some time

The Austrian government has been seen as one of the most likely customers for the KC-390 after delegations from the country participated in the first meeting of military jet operators in Portugal and the LAAD fair in Brazil.

In April, the Ministry of Defense sent a request for information to potential interested parties in providing an aircraft capable of transporting up to 20 tons of paid cargo and carrying out aerial refueling.

Despite its good relationship with NATO countries, Austria is one of the few European nations that have not joined the military alliance, along with Cyprus, Ireland and Malta.

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