The US State Department has approved a potential sale of 24 C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft to Australia for an estimated cost of $6.35 billion.
The US approval comes just two days after the Australian defense ministry announced its decision to replace and extend its medium air mobility fleet of 12 C-130J Hercules aircraft with an unspecified number of new C-130J-30 airframes as part of Project AIR 7404 phase 1.
According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Australia has requested to buy 24 C-130J-30 aircraft, as well as radars, identification friend or foe (IFF) transponders, missile warning systems, embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation systems, radio frequency countermeasure systems, Guardian laser transmitter assemblies for large aircraft infrared countermeasures, and tactical radio systems.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region,” DSCA said.
Australia’s defense ministry said it approached a number of aircraft manufacturers as part of its project to revitalize the medium air mobility fleet. It added that the acquisition of new C-130J aircraft represented the only option that met all of Australia’s capability requirements.
The C-130J will be the only option that the defense ministry will progress for government approval in 2023.
The C-130J-30 Australia plans to buy is a stretch version of the C-130J. It adds 15 feet to the fuselage, increasing usable space (two more pallets of equipment) in the cargo compartment. It has a maximum allowable payload of 44,000 pounds (19,958 kilograms) and a range of 4,425 kilometers with 40,000 pounds of payload.