The Joneses…Oz Buying New 20 Hercules Js

A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules transport aircraft conducts formation practice on the New South Wales coast near Sydney. ADF picture.

SHAH ALAM: Australia is replacing its existing fleet of RAAF Hercules C-130J airlifters with the purchase of newer aircraft at a cost AUD$9.8 billion (US$6.6 billion/RM30 billion), the government announced on July 24. Deliveries of the new aircraft will start in 2027.

RAAF currently operates 12 C-130Js which were delivered in 1999 to 2001.

The release:

The Albanese Government will purchase 20 new C-130J Hercules aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force for $9.8 billion. This will provide the Air Force with state of the art C-130 Hercules to meet the air transport needs of the future.

The new acquisitions will replace and expand upon the 12 Hercules aircraft currently operated by Air Force with delivery of the first aircraft expected from late 2027.

There will be significant benefits for Australian industry from the expanded fleet size, with opportunities to construct facilities and infrastructure and to sustain the aircraft.

The Australian Defence Force relies on the C-130J Hercules aircraft for the deployment of personnel, equipment and humanitarian supplies. The iconic aircraft is regularly used in search and rescue missions, disaster relief and medical evacuation.

The C-130J has been involved in almost every major Defence operation in recent decades, from Bougainville assistance and Timor-Leste peacekeeping through to conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently the aircraft supported Australia’s response to COVID-19 in the region, delivering vaccines and medical supplies, as well bushfire and flood response.

The C-130J Hercules are made by Lockheed Martin and are being purchased from the United States. The aircraft will continue to be operated by No. 37 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond in NSW.

And as someone is likely to chime in to say shouldn’t we buy the Js being retired by RAAF? No, we should not. Like RAF Js, the RAAF 12 Js are also high-mileage aircraft which has been operated by No. 37 Squadron from 1999. Note the second last line of the above release as it clearly showed that the RAAF Js has likely more flying hours than our very H Hercules even though they were delivered h just two decades ago.

RMAF Hercules M30-08 landing at Labuan in late November, 2017. Malaysian Defence picture.

Of course, RMAF wants to buy the J Hercules but they want new ones. Yes, some air forces might end up buying RAAF and RAF retired Js but it will not be us.

–Malaysian Defence

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23 Comments

  1. This 9.8 billion purchase wasn’t even big news here. I suppose it’s just small change for Oz, thanks to us Aussie taxpayers. Don’t ask me how much I pay every years in taxes. You’d be shocked.

  2. “chime in to say shouldn’t we buy the Js being retired”
    Yup, and was also the proponent to get retired OZ Hornets over the Kuwaiti ones, despite them being of higher mileage than their Middle Eastern brothers. Yes, inspite the fact that Canada later bet on them and brought them back to operational state.

  3. If we need a new transporter, we are better off getting additional A400M instead.

    Currently we are really flying the wings off the A400M fleet, now the highest A400M average time fleet with only 4 aircrafts.

    As for our own C-130H, our older charlie from the 1970s batch all have their CWB (center wing box) changed. Another half of our C-130H fleet is from around 1995. CWB change is a very time-consuming task, but no issue to us with our low manpower salary compared to the west. What Australia is doing is to buy new C-130J and sell of their current ones before they need to invest substantial money into something like a CWB change.

    A question for RMAF is not whether to buy new C-130Js, but are we willing to invest money to upgrade our current C-130H fleet to be able to operate in the future. The fleet needs ADS-B transponder retrofit for flying in international airspace (costs nearly nothing actually), cockpit upgrades to reduce manpower (eliminating flight engineer tasks), Engine upgrades (for fuel saving and life increase), 8-bladed propeller upgrades (more thrust, cheaper future repairs), self-protection suites and others.

    Pictured is a US ANG C-130H with upgraded 8-bladed propellers
    https://www.airandspaceforces.com/app/uploads/2020/09/First-combined-NP2000-EPCS-installation-on-a-USAF-C-130H.-Credit-ANG-scaled.jpg

  4. … – “A question for RMAF is not whether to buy new C-130Js, but are we willing to invest money to upgrade our current C-130H fleet to be able to operate in the future”

    There was a period when we wanted to subject the H fleet to a comprehensive upgrade. That however was when they were younger and before the A400Ms were ordered.

    Now the equation has changed; the RMAF still intends on upgrading part of the fleet but it won’t be a comprehensive upgrade. Like the RMN with the FACs and Laksamanas
    the RMAF would not want to spend more than what it deems is absolutely needed on airframes of that age; even if the pen pushers agreed to it.

    Irrespective of what’s in the CAP 55 which isn’t holy writ and like the 5/15 is/ was politically expedient; the interesting question is whether the service sees a need for any C-130Js.

  5. Didn’t the yanks grounded their C-130H after cracks shows up from these engine andpropeller upgrade?

    I guess the airframe really stressed out with the increase in thrust

  6. “Don’t ask me how much I pay every years in taxes. You’d be shocked.”
    Ur an OZ, at least be happy that it is money well spent and the tangible is a stronger defence (with more external focus than before).

  7. Yes, they do and Mindef is supporting it. And both also agree that second hand Js are not worth it. Whether or not money will be made available and when, is beyond me and even Mindef.

  8. We currently have sufficient airlift capabilities & we overused it a bit as we lacked sufficient sealift capabilities.

    So The logical thing to do is priorities procurement of sealift capabilities be it by MRSS or police/MMEA ‘mothership’ while paying the absolute minimum possible to sustain the airlift capabilities until it eventual replacement in 2040/50s.

  9. Should have gotten a couple of Js from the RAF fleet. Give Airod the chance to upgrade certifications. Great dissonance between our aspiration to be a MRO hub and the assets we have.

  10. “Ur an OZ, at least be happy that it is money well spent” – the NH-90 & Tiger Heli debacle and the France submarines cancellation debacle are hardly “money well spent” …

  11. They all buying Military equipment. This will be a big concern in the future. Our northern neighbor is already choose its MRF and waiting for the budget released any soon to acquired 14 jas-39 c/d. And the US counterparrs are on the orocess of transferring 24 used f-16 and committed up to 4 Squadron to support their air force. They are now also in the process of acquiring 6 Asw and Ashuw helicoprer. 2 will use for their new HDC-3100 Corvette And the other 4 for their soon new order for 2 corvette and 2 frigate for Horizon 3. Senior Military officials should see this massive modernization of northern Neighbor

  12. @ dundun

    ” Didn’t the yanks grounded their C-130H after cracks shows up from these engine andpropeller upgrade? ”

    No

    They are grounded because of cracks in the ORIGINAL 4-bladed propellers.

    Changing to the newer more advanced 8-bladed propellers is one of the solution to those groundings.

    Upgrading RMAF current C-130H should not cost more than USD 10 million per aircraft. The delays are actually a blessing as avionic upgrade costs has dropped significantly as electronic components become cheaper.

  13. Jun – “This will be a big concern in the future”

    Why? What reason is there for it to be a “concern”?

    Jun – “Military officials should see this massive modernization of northern”

    What do you do expect them to do about it? Do we face a new gear from the north; should we focus on whet we heed rather than reacting to whet others ate doing and should procurement be threat driven?

    Hasnan – “Should have gotten a couple of Js from the RAF fleet”

    Why on earth would we get high mileage airframes? And why when we face no shortage in fixed wing transports?

  14. @jun
    Personally The PH shopping list isn’t that dissimilar to our owned. But The biggest difference is how procurement is going to be done

    PH does not have much of an industrial capabilities thus not much incentive for local assembly nor in the process of transitioning out of middle income trap which requires TOT nor they are that worried about debt level & financial sustainability due to their rapid economic & population growth.

  15. @Tom Tom
    Its about standard rate for middle class earners in First World countries, many of my friends kids in Sweden fresh grad ady starting work has to pay 33%, yes tiga puluh tiga percen at fresh grad jobs. Its all relative as it depends on ur living lifestyle overall. Ur M40 living there is arguably (but I’m sure you agree) still better than the M40s here despite we paying much less percentage wise, but we earn cikus compared to you guys.

    Anyhow whatever it is, OZ defence procurement on the whole has largely met their goals, big ticket projects were uneventfully delivered, and those not so successful programs largely (AFAIK) will quickly gets resolved; NH90 will be replaced with Blackhawks. This unlike us, while we pay lesser taxes, but whatever puny sums divvied to defence still get squandered to failing national interests (AUG to M4 soon to Caracal), to rescue troubled programs (LCS & OPV), to wasted unrealised potential (Skyhawks, some still rotting in Mojave), or outright paying for cancellation (M109) and yet 5+ years later we still got nothing.

    @mofaz
    No defence programs ever could be strings of successes but on the whole OZ programs do met their needs and failures are quickly replaced or no longer needed. The NH90 will soon be followed by Blackhawks and attack choppers might not even be needed as OZ pivots towards a more maritime focused strategy. And in that sense the French sub debacle is not a total loss either when its replaced with US nuke subs as they becoming a regional superpower. So in terms of value for money, its arguably but I’d say they got more value from their expenditures as compared to us.

  16. Joe, yes we earn more but things are also much more expensive. Even a simple Chinese takeaway noodle dish or Thai pad thai can cost AUD 25. That’s 75 MYR. Nobody eats out anymore. Big Mac is almost 24MYR. It’s all relative. And don’t ask about medical bills if you ever get sick.

  17. Jun – ”And the US counterparrs are on the orocess of transferring 24 used f-16 and committed up to 4 Squadron to support their air force. ”

    You missed the part [like may others who go gaga about procurement done by certain countries] about the need for them to ensure a certain level of funding is sustained; the fact that all the recent buys is a bare fraction of what they need as the AFP is large and has large operational commitments and the bulk of gear they have has long been in need of replacement. Look a things in totality …

    Great they’re getting pre owned F-16s as they haven’t had a dedicated fighter in more than 2 decades. If they do get Scorpenes are you then going to whine all about it and make comparisons to us?

    Zaft – ”does not have much of an industrial capabilities thus not much incentive for local assembly nor in the process of transitioning out of middle income trap which requires TOT nor they are that worried about debt level & financial sustainability due to their rapid economic & population growth.”

    Lets not go off tangent shall we … National interests plays a much lesser role there; they are playing catch after decades of underfunding the AFP and they actually have a press that questions and scrutinises authority [unlike here]. On top of that various Senators and Congressmen are ex military and know the game and there is consensus amongst the various political blocs on the need to invest in the military [over here anything can become an issue; even the most mundane of issues]. Oh, on top of that; since you mentioned ”rapid economic & population growth” there is still a large gap in wealth; a large portion of the population doesn’t pay taxes; inflation is high; large areas of the country are still underdeveloped and they still have an internal security problem with the New People’s Army; Aby Sayaf Group, IS, Maute Group, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc]. One area in which they’re way ahead of us is English. Even in a small town in some backwater province; the provincial coppers all speak English and so do fresh grads [unlike the case here] …

    zaft – ” we overused it a bit as we lacked sufficient sealift capabilities.”

    There is no correlation yet you’ve come up with one …

    Zaft – ”So The logical thing to do is priorities procurement of sealift capabilities be it by MRSS”

    No. Bollocks . The issue with sealift and with airlift are two profoundly different issues. Yet you’ve conflated things as you tend to do.

  18. @Tom Tom
    Everything is expensive when you convert to MYR, but its not like you earn in MYR either rite? As I said its relative. If that Big Mac cost only 1% of ur income but the same cost 2% for a regular M40 here, your living standards are still much better off dollar for dollar.

    Defence wise, for the same percentage of budget, OZ could afford for a fleet of F35s but here we could prolly afford only FA50 or its stealth knockoff KFX. That is the affordability gap between richer nations and Malaysia.

  19. Speaking of OZ, they have grounded the Taipans after the recent crash. Looks like it might not even last until next year for its due replacement.

  20. Azlan “Lets not go off tangent shall we … National interests plays a much lesser role there;”

    You are talking as if national interest comes at the expense of defense spending rather than defense spending are allocated to achieve the national interest.

    Azlan “consensus amongst the various political blocs on the need to invest in the military”

    Not really. Unlike OZ & JP where’s there’s political consensus that they are on team uncle Sam. PH politicians like us is still flip flopping around not sure where to hedges their bet.

    Spending money without consensus on what the actual goal is, who are the ‘security risk , who are your partners etc etc aren’t going to get them anywhere.

  21. Zaft – “You are talking as if national”

    You are going off tangent and obfuscating again. National interests plays a lesser part in the Philippines compared to here. There is a greater sense of purpose as to what they hope to achieve.

    Zaft – “Not really”

    Do you actually know what you’re taking about? I spend a lot of time in the Philippines and have long been known observing the local defence scene. Have you? I’m no expert but O have a fault good idea of what makes them tick; beyond just relying on Google and forming conclusions.

    Yes there is more consensus there compared to here with regards to defence; more non bi partisanship and more questioning and srutinising of authority. Look it up. Research ….

    Zaft – ”who are the ‘security risk , who are your partners etc etc aren’t going to get them anywhere.”

    Do you actually know what you’re driving at; rather than going off in all directions [as usual]; shooting the wrong calibre; going off tangent. They are in a rush to modernise the AFP after decades of neglect and that is precisely what they’re doing: period/full stop.

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