Australia’s Department of Defence plans to move forward with C-130J-30 to replace its existing fleet of 12 C-130J-30s. The earliest planned replacement of the C-130Js is expected to start closer to 2030 with a potential budget of 8.8-13.2 billion Australian dollar ($5.58 – $8.37 billion).
According to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, the decision was most likely influenced by interoperability with friendly forces, familiarity with the supplier and equipment and geopolitics.
The announcement was followed by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approving a possible sale of up to 24 C-130J-30s and related equipment to Australia for an estimated cost of $6.35 billion.
The decision also highlights the factors that will make the key partners in the AUKUS agreement happy. As per the Australian Department of Defence (DoD), these are “low risk, certified in all roles, proven, mature and affordable.”
GlobalData’s “Military Fixed-Wing Aircraft Market Forecast 2022-2032” report reveals that the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow at 3.16 percent CAGR over 2022-2032.
For the same period, Lockheed Martin, the C-130J’s manufacturer, is the second leading supplier. Its sales in the region are mainly propped by the F-35s, including those to Australia. Transport aircraft alone will account for 10.3 percent of the market volume, growing at a 2.49 percent CAGR over the same period, as per GlobalData.
Mathew George,Practice Head, Aerospace, Defense and Security at GlobalData pointed out that, “This announcement only seems to cement its existing relationships to procure these aircraft to continue the work done by these in the unique environments and missions they will find themselves.” According to him, “the C-130J aircraft will need to continue the work done by the RAAF in neighbouring Pacific Islands and other areas where they are deployed. With troubles facing Embraer with the Brazilian air force reducing order numbers, the C-130J-30 may have been the safe, tried-and-tested bet that the RAAF could move forward with.”
BAE Systems was selected to continue the maintenance and upgrade of the F-35s, while the C-130Js in service are being maintained through two prime performance-based contracts with Airbus Australia Pacific and Standard Aero, while CAE Australia supports the C-130J Simulator.
George added that, “These contracts will continue moving forward as the platform will not change, just their upgrades. Not to mention Project AIR5440 and other upgrades to ensure the existing fleet continues till the new ones arrive.”