Netherlands Opt for Early Replacement of C-130H Hercules Instead of Upgrade

(Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence; issued Oct. 13, 2020)

The Dutch defense ministry has decided to replace of its fleet of four Lockheed C-130H transport aircraft at a cost is estimates at €250 million to €1 billion instead of upgrading them to extend their service life. (NL MoD photo)

Defense will replace the current four C-130H Hercules transport aircraft ahead of schedule. The project is now being implemented between 2021 and 2028, with the first planes arriving in 2026. State Secretary Barbara Visser wrote this to the House yesterday.

The current aircraft were bought in 1992 (two new) and in 2005 (two used). The oldest is from 1978. Its normal lifespan of 30 years has thus expired. As a result, the readiness of the aircraft is now also insufficient.

This fact, combined with the limited number of aircraft, ensures that availability lags behind the needs of Defense. If one of the aircraft fails, the already limited capacity will immediately come under further pressure. Therefore, the simultaneous execution of tasks is now limited.

Direct replacement cheaper

Defense has come to the conclusion that the planned maintenance does not provide the necessary improvement in deployability. Modernization of the current fleet would reduce availability even further over the next four years.

Their replacement is financially more beneficial and improves employability. That is why the previously-decided maintenance program is no longer carried out, and the current aircraft will be replaced immediately.

Requirements for new aircraft

The new aircraft must be able to be used all over the world, even under difficult conditions. The replacement must therefore be able to land on unpaved and short runways. The aircraft can transport (seriously) injured people and provide high-quality medical care during transport.

Defense needs at least 2,400 flight hours per year. An aircraft must be able to transport multiple types of equipment (including ammunition and vehicles) or a minimum of 60 paratroopers. This means that a distance of 2,000 nautical miles can be covered. The aircraft will be provided with self-protection equipment and communication and information facilities for participation in information-led operations.


The costs are between € 250 million and € 1 billion. So-called off-the-shelf devices are bought for this. These are existing aircraft that have already proven themselves. In the follow-up phases, it will be examined how Dutch industry can be involved.


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