Qantas Defence Services (QDS) has entered into a contract with the Indonesian air force for refurbishment work on four former-Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules tactical transports. Worth Australian dollars (A$) 63 million ($58 million), the deal mainly applies to three of the aircraft, says Glenn Brown, head of the Qantas Aviation Services organistation, of which QDS is a unit.
The four ex-RAAF aircraft were in storage for between three and four years, says Brown, and three of them require varying degrees of maintenance to return them to operational status. The fourth, which underwent heavy maintenance shortly before being placed in storage, has already been painted in Indonesian air force colours. Brown says the aircraft is "immediately airworthy", and will be sent to Indonesia "straight away."
The remaining three will be delivered in 2014, with one example sent in January or February, one in June or July, and the final example in October.
The work will be undertaken at RAAF Richmond, New South Wales, where the transports have been stored. Training is also part of the QDS package, and Indonesian crews are preparing to use the refurbished C-130Hs. Brown says that although the Indonesian air force already operates the H-variant Hercules, the former RAAF aircraft have a somewhat different cockpit, making simulator training necessary.
According to Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database, Jakarta has an active fleet of 15 C-130s, including B- and H-model examples, and four commercial-variant L-100s.
Brown says the RAAF took excellent care of its aircraft, and that with proper care the four being transferred to Indonesia could serve for another 20-30 years. Australia retired the last of its C-130Hs in November 2012, six months after announcing that it would retire the type early, in hopes of saving A$250 million over the subsequent four years. The type's missions were farmed out to other types, such as the new-generation C-130J and Boeing C-17. Australia operates 12 and six of these, respectively.
One day after announcing its retirement decision, Canberra confirmed a long expected deal to buy 10 Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan tactical transports for A$1.4 billion under the US government's Foreign Military Sales mechanism, in a move which will further bolster its airlift capabilities. The RAAF expects the C-27J to reach initial operational capability in 2016.