The RAAF’s C-130H Hercules will be retired early to save $250 million in operational and maintenance costs, the federal government’s budget for 2012-13 released Tuesday evening reveals.
The eight flyable C-130Hs, operated by 37SQN from RAAF Richmond, were due to be retired from 2013, but last October Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Defence Material Minister Jason Clare announced Defence was developing options to retain the C-130H fleet out to 2016.
Current activities undertaken by the C-130Hs currently in service would be redistributed across the remaining air mobility fleet including C-130Js, C-17s and “the replacement for the Caribou aircraft”, Defence Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement.
A second ministerial statement lists the Caribou replacement as one of a number of “core” White Paper 2009 projects “Defence will progress” in 2012-13.
In the lead-up to the budget the AIR 8000 Phase 2 Battlefield Airlifter (BFA) project to replace the RAAF’s now retired DHC-4 Caribou transport had been the subject of speculation that it was in line for cancellation.
UPDATE: The C-27J has been selected to fulfill the Battlefield Airlifter role, for entry into service in 2015.