The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has finalised the acquisition of new-build C-130J Hercules aircraft under Project AIR 7404 Phase 1.

The project was launched to replace and expand the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) fleet of 12 C-130J Hercules aircraft to meet the emerging air mobility needs of the country.

The latest decision comes after a long process of comparing and assessing other aircraft with the capability and performance of the C-130J aircraft.

In this process, the DoD approached various aerospace and defence companies to seek information regarding the available medium transport aircraft options for the RAAF fleet.

The DoD weighed the features and benefits of each available aircraft option and evaluated whether they meet the RAAF’s transport capability needs.

Some of the main air mobility requirements of the country include a mature, cost-effective, combat-proven, low-risk aircraft that is certified in all roles.

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Following this assessment process, the Australian DoD concluded that the C-130J aircraft is the only aircraft that can fulfil all the requirements of the country’s air force, without any additional substantial expenses and capability risk.

As per the decision, the DoD will now move ahead with the C-130J to seek the government’s approval next year.

In service with RAAF since 1999, the Lockheed Martin-built tactical transport aircraft is a reliable and combat-proven aircraft.

All the current 12 C-130J Hercules aircraft are operated by No. 37 Squadron, based at RAAF Base Richmond in New South Wales.

The aircraft is deployed extensively by the Australian Defence Force for personnel transport and for delivering assistance. It can also be deployed for search and rescue and medical evacuation missions.