The Australian Department of Defence has announced the installation of a high-speed satellite communications (SATCOM) system on a second Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130J Hercules.
The C-130J A97-467 aircraft was the latest of the fleet to be installed with the system. This will provide an in-flight internet connection to passengers and crew.
Airbus Group Australia Pacific at RAAF Base Richmond is responsible for the modification and used a Honeywell antenna and connectivity to the Inmarsat network.
In 2017, the antenna and associated avionics equipment were equipped on the first C-130J. Six aircraft are set to be upgraded.
With this capability, the RAAF became the first operator of C-130J Hercules to install Ka-band SATCOM system.
The system allows high-definition video live-streaming and connectivity to headquarters and other nodes in the world.
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Commander Air Mobility Group air commodore Carl Newman said: “Deploying a Hercules might require a flight of up to ten hours and, in that time, the operating environment for both the crew and embarked joint capabilities could vary significantly.
“We often deploy the C-130J Hercules as a first responder for missions such as disaster relief, sending them to remote locations where communications infrastructure is often damaged or non-existent.
“Equipping our Hercules with high-speed SATCOM allows control elements, crew and embarked forces alike to conduct mission planning while the C-130J is en route, sending and receiving updates in real time.”
For each of the Ka-band modification, a SATCOM antenna and fairing are installed on the spine of the Hercules.
Equipment is also fitted inside the cargo bay to offer local and wireless area networks.
The C-130J Hercules fleet is operated by the No 37 Squadron, which operates from RAAF Base Richmond.
It is scheduled to take the delivery of a third aircraft featuring the Ka-band SATCOM capability by April 2021.