The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) has requested the supply of new C-130J Hercules aircraft from the US Air Force (USAF).
The decision, which has been approved by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to boost the central segment of the tactical transport fleet of the French Air Force (FAA).
The FAA will acquire two aircraft capable of refuelling helicopters, besides two regular C-130J Hercules aircraft.
Additionally, the contract will cover the supply of associated equipment, parts and logistical support.
The first two aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2017 and in early 2018 and the two tanker aircraft in 2019.
The Lockheed Martin-built C-130 is the tactical cargo and personnel transport aircraft. C-130J Hercules is the latest model that features a glass cockpit, digital avionics and a new propulsion system with a six-bladed propeller.
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The new aircraft will offer critical transport, airdrop, and resupply to thousands of French troops in support of current and future operations.
Moreover, the new capabilities will offer crucial air refueling capability to France’s fighter aircraft, light transport aircraft, and helicopters.
Currently, the FAA fleet comprises of the C-160 Transall and the C-130H Hercules that are deployed for various multi-national missions.
In November, the US State Department approved a possible foreign military sale (FMS) worth around $650m to France for C-130J aircraft and associated equipment, parts and logistical support.
The proposed sale included two C-130J aircraft with Rolls Royce AE-2100D turboprop engines, two KC-130J aircraft with Rolls Royce AE-2100D turboprop engines and four Rolls Royce AE-2100D turboprop engines spares.