The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is expected to upgrade its fleet of Hercules C-130 transport aircraft to extend its service life and reduce maintenance costs.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the upgrade would begin in 2014, after the current C-130 maintenance contract had expired, according to the Malay Mail.

The C-130 upgrade programme is expected to be based on the US Air Force’s Hercules avionics modernisation programme, which was undertaken by Boeing.

It may also include equipping the RMAF Hercules with defensive aids systems to enable the aircraft to take part in international duties.

The RMAF’s Nuri helicopter fleet will also be upgraded to the S-61T Triton standard.

Funds for the upgrade project will come under the tenth Malaysian plan, which will be tabled next week.