The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is set to fit high-speed communications systems on an additional five C-130J Hercules transport aircraft in order to be better equipped to respond to a crisis.

Developed by Honeywell, the Ka-Band satellite communications (SATCOM) system provides broadband internet connectivity for crew and passengers.

The RAAF already fitted one of its six Hercules aircraft with this system in 2017. The system is intended to facilitate streaming of high-definition video and supporting complex mission planning while the aircraft is in flight.

The service plans to begin equipment of the SATCOM system on the five more C-130J Hercules airframes later this year during scheduled maintenance works by Airbus Australia Pacific at RAAF Base Richmond.

RAAF Air Mobility Group commander air commodore William Kourelakos said: “Our Hercules crews and passengers are often first on the scene in times of crisis, and require timely information at their destination.

“Already, we’ve demonstrated the utility of this system on one Hercules, streaming video from missions in the Pacific and allowing basic command and control functions to be carried out from the aircraft.”

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By GlobalData
“SATCOM connectivity would be equivalent to providing broadband internet services for embarked forces.”

The service previously fitted its entire fleet of 12 C-130J Hercules with L-Band SATCOM to facilitate global voice communications and data transfer. The initiative was performed beginning in 2015.

The Ka-Band system will complement existing satellite transfer rates. Furthermore, the system will also enable communications across a broader spectrum of flight conditions, the Department of Defence noted.

Completion of the installation of the equipment is expected to take place by 2022.

According to No 37 Squadron ground liaison officer army captain Ian Carter, SATCOM connectivity would be equivalent to providing broadband internet services for embarked forces.

Carter said: “Having half the Hercules fleet fitted with this system provides greater assuredness of capability-boosting technology being available for embarked defence units.”