The Dutch defense ministry revealed it has selected the Embraer-built C-390 Millenium as the successor for its old C-130H Hercules transport aircraft.
The Brazilian C-390M was selected over the Lockheed Martin C-130J, which was the alternative to the C-390M and believed to be a favorite since it is an evolution of the C-130H already in service.
The five Milleniums will be replacing four Hercules airlifters, the defense ministry said, adding that it is boosting the number of airframes in its fleet due to a need for more flying hours.
As explained, the C-390M can meet the minimum requirement of 2,400 flying hours with only four aircraft, whereas the C-130J solution would need five aircraft for this. Additionally, the availability of the C-390M is higher, with the airframe scoring better on a number of operational and technical requirements and requiring less maintenance.
According to the defense ministry, the first of the planned five new transport aircraft is expected to arrive in the Netherlands in 2026.
The defense ministry also said the purchase was accelerated due to the increasing unreliability of the C-130H currently in service. The Dutch Air Force had initially planned to fly the Hercules until at least 2031.
With the acquisition of an additional airframe, the project will now cost between 1 billion and 2.5 billion euros. The defense ministry said it initially assumed it would have to set aside between 250 million and 1 billion euros for the purchase.
C-390M will complement the larger A330 the Netherlands will operate as part of the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) program, which will consist of nine aircraft capable of providing strategic transport, air-to-air refueling and medical evacuation capabilities to its six participating nations (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway).
With its order, the Dutch defense ministry is becoming the third NATO country to order the C-390, following Hungary and Portugal. Embraer recently also demonstrated the capabilities of the aircraft to the Czech Air Force.