Australia has received the green-light from the U.S. State Department for a potential buy of 24 C-130J tactical transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin via the government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channel. Notification of the potential sale was issued to Congress by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on November 2, 2022. The total sales package, which includes the Rolls-Royce AE-2100D turboprop engines and core electronics systems, comes to an estimated $6.35 billion.
The FMS announcement came just a day after the Australian government announced plans to replace and expand the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of legacy C-130Js with newer variants. The current fleet of 12 C-130J-30s are the principal airlift platforms used by the Australian Defence Force, themselves replacing legacy fleets of C‑130E and H variants, the last of which was retired in November 2012 (four were subsequently gifted to Indonesia).
Australia will spend $10bn to double the size of the air force’s fleet of C-130J cargo planes, opting to stick with the tried and tested turboprop in a decision contested by a former RAAF director-general of aerospace development.https://t.co/Inh0OKpPlO
— The Australian (@australian) November 3, 2022
The Australian Department of Defence announced its intent on replacing the C-130J-30s in the late 2020s with a larger fleet in its 2020 Force Structure Plan. The Force Structure Plan and 2020 Defence Strategic Update are currently being re-examined with an emphasis on force posture (last reviewed in 2012), as per a statement by the newly elected Labor Party government of Anthony Albanese. The new Defence Strategic Review is expected to be released before the end of the year.
The C-130J acquisition indicates a possibility that many of the key findings and force structure plans outlined by the previous Morrison government are likely to continue under the new government.