Netherlands selects Embraer C-390 to replace its C-130 Hercules

Royal Air Force will order five military transport aircraft with deliveries starting in 2026

For the first time, Embraer C-390 Millennium multi-role aircraft won direct competition with its main rival, the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules. The Royal Netherlands Air Force announced on Thursday that it will place an order for five aircraft to replace its four end-of-life C-130Hs.

The first airlifters should be delivered from 2026, explained the Ministry of Defense, which pointed out the advantages of the Brazilian plane as the greater availability of the C-390M, higher operational and technical requirements and the need for less maintenance.

“Furthermore, the C-390M can already meet the minimum requirement of 2,400 flight hours with 4 aircraft. The C-130J needs 5 aircraft for this,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force has decided to order five C-390Ms due to plans to expand the program’s flight hours from 2,400 to 4,000 hours.

“With an expansion from 2,400 to 4,000 flight hours, the units are better and more frequently supported. The Netherlands also contributes to filling a European deficit. The additional transport capacity also benefits the speed of response to disasters,” explained the Minister of Dutch defender, Christophe van der Maat.

The C-390M should be part of the European Air Transport Command, which brings together seven nations on the continent.

Royal Netherlands Air Force C-130H (RNAF)

Search for new customers

The victory in the Dutch competition is a great relief for Embraer, which had to deal for months with discussions with the current command of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), which decided to reduce the original order of 28 KC-390s, citing lack of financial resources.

The new order is also the most significant for the aircraft. In addition to Brazil, which financed part of its development, only Portugal and Hungary closed orders for the multi-role jet, in processes in which there was no open competition.

Now, the C-390 Millennium has 34 firm orders – five from the Netherlands and Portugal, two from Hungary and 22 from Brazil. However, the FAB is still trying to reduce the deal to just 15 aircraft.

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