France has confirmed its purchase of four Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules tactical transports, two of which will have the ability to refuel France’s rotorcraft fleet.

A contract for the acquisition was signed on 29 January, two months after the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency authorised the sale of two C-130Js, two extended-range Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers, and a spare set of four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D turboprop engines.

Ordered from the US Air Force via the Foreign Military Sales programme, the C-130Js will be delivered in 2017/18, the French DGA procurement agency says, with the two tankers following in 2019.

The two variants will complement France’s C-160R Transall and Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft, and are being rapidly acquired to support aerial refuelling of its rotorcraft fleet, a mission unable to be performed by its new Airbus Defence & Space A400M.

The deal was valued at $355 million when approved in November, and includes the aircraft, engines, support and training.

France also hopes to arm the type with the Lockheed AGM-114K1A Hellfire air-to-surface missile used aboard its Airbus Helicopters Tiger attack rotorcraft.

KC-130J - US Marine Corps

US Marine Corps KC-130J

US Marine Corps

Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database shows France to have an active inventory of 31 C-160R and five C-130H. It also has an inventory of eight A400Ms plus 42 more on order.