Second RAAF C-130J Hercules equipped with Ka-band SATCOM system

19 November 2020 (Last Updated November 19th, 2020 12:09)

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.

Second RAAF C-130J Hercules equipped with Ka-band SATCOM system
No. 37 Squadron C-130J Hercules A97-468 and A97-467 have been fitted with Ka-band satellite communications systems. Credit: Corporal David Said.

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.

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.