Riyadh has requested a potentially $6.7 billion deal to acquire 25 Lockheed Martin C-130Js for airlift and inflight refuelling duties, with the effort to significantly modernise the Royal Saudi Air Force's air transport capabilities.

Twenty stretched-fuselage C-130J-30 transports would be purchased under the proposal, plus five KC-130J tankers and associated equipment and services, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) says.

"Saudi Arabia needs these aircraft to sustain its aging fleet, which faces increasing obsolescence," the DSCA said in an 8 November notification to the US Congress. The nation's air force operates 31 H-model Hercules transports and seven KC-130H tankers, as recorded by Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. The oldest of these entered service in 1973, it says.

 Saudi C-130H - Pay Peter Foster

Peter Foster

If advanced to contract stage, the requested deal would make Saudi Arabia the latest Gulf state to acquire the new-generation Hercules. The C-130J is already used by Oman and Qatar, is on order as an airlifter for Iraq and as a tanker for Kuwait, and also previously selected by the United Arab Emirates.

Source: Flight International