Peter La Franchi/CANBERRA

The Royal Australian Air Force is to retain its 12 C-130Es in operational service for at least another year, following the Australian Government's decision to double the size of forces held at short-term readiness.

The RAAF had planned to withdraw the aircraft from service this year, replacing them with 12 C-130Js, deliveries of which are expected to begin in late July and to be completed by December.

The retention of the E model will see the RAAF operating 36 C-130s for the whole of next year. The decision to retain the C-130Es in operational service has prompted the RAAF to amend a contract arrangement with Air New Zealand Engineering Services to provide deep-level maintenance for both E and H models for a further 18 months.

Air Vice Marshal Neil Smith, Support Commander Air Force, says the Hercules is the mainstay of the RAAF's airlift capability and, although the fleet is going through a transition, "we still have to provide the required service".

Source: Flight International