RAF decides to retire the C-130 Hercules by 2023

Lockheed Martin’s transport turboprop should remain in service until the 2030s and will have no replacement

The Royal Air Force has decided to anticipate the retirement of all C-130 Hercules in its fleet to 2023. The information was confirmed by the British Ministry of Defense on Monday.

“As the transport fleet improves availability we will remove the C130-J Hercules in 2023, after 24 years of service. Twenty-two A400Ms, alongside the C17s, will provide a more capable and flexible transport fleet,” said the statement.

The larger capacity A400 Atlas turboprop will take on the role of the Lockheed Martin aircraft, including 14 units of the C-130J model, received in the late 1990s and which were to remain in service until the 2030s.

The British government has announced the biggest overhaul of its defense budget since the end of the Cold War. The MOD also announced that the old E-3D Sentry radar planes will be replaced by the E-7 Wedgetail (based on the Boeing 737) from 2023.

RAF plans to receive more F-35 fighters while investing in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a 6th generation fighter developed in partnership with Italy and Sweden.

The force also plans to expand the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems and will replace its Reaper drones with the Protector model in 2024.

Royal Air Force A400M (RAF)

On the other hand, the government will remove from service other older aircraft such as 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, nine Chinook helicopters and 20 Super Puma.

Less versatile

Despite its large capacity, the A400M should make the RAF less able to operate in a variety of scenarios. The C-130 is known for its versatility and reliability as well as offering a load capacity of around 22 tonnes in a cargo hold of 170 m³. Airbus’ four-engine turboprop, on the other hand, has twice the volume and can carry 37 tons.

In this sense, the new C-390 Millennium tactical transport jet may be an opportunity for Embraer to offer it to RAF. Although it has a shorter range, the Brazilian plane carries 23 tons and is faster than the A400M – 870 km/h cruising speed against just 550 km/h of the turboprop.

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