New transport aircraft – decision made on the successor to “Hercules”?


As the ‘Krone’ learned, the successor to the completely outdated ‘Hercules’ transport fleet of the Federal Army must be determined: the choice has reportedly already fallen on the C-390 from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. For the first time in its history, the federal army will have modern, military ‘liners’ for supply tasks, but also for more specific missions such as airborne landings, evacuations and firefighting.

The characteristic, deep hum of the four ‘Hercules’ propellers will be heard less and less over Linz-Hörsching over the next six years. From 2026, this will likely be replaced by the high-pitched whistle of two turbofan engines, which will in the future power up to five new C-390 transport aircraft for the Austrian Armed Forces.

Photos: The Federal Army’s current transporter, the C-130K “Hercules”

Negotiations with manufacturer Embraer
Because the choice for the successor to the army’s aging Hercules fleet appears to have been decided: as reported, negotiations will be started together with the Netherlands with the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer to purchase the new aircraft. Because the timing is right: since the Dutch are already in the final stages of their contract negotiations and we haven’t even started yet, Austria will now jump on the deal.

According to information from “Krone”, the Dutch would be ready more than their planned five C-390s – and then sell these ‘surplus’ machines to Austria. No concrete figures have yet been given about the number of units for Austria; the 2032 development plan mentions four to five examples.

No aircraft directly from the manufacturer
The background to this: Since the corruption-ridden Eurofighter debacle in the early 2000s, the Republic has avoided at all costs purchasing military aircraft directly from their manufacturers. Minister Klaudia Tanner (ÖVP) prefers to continue shopping – numerous purchases are currently being made – with allied states. And buys the planes, which sometimes cost billions, from government to government, that is, “from government to government.” But there has to be an opportunity, the timing has to be right. Like now with the Dutch.

1.) Why does the military need transport aircraft at all?
The federal army currently uses its three old C-130K ‘Hercules’ mainly for the transport and supply of soldiers abroad. At any given time, almost 800 Bundeswehr soldiers are deployed in other countries. These need to be moved back and forth regularly, supplied and evacuated in the event of an emergency, for example in the event of a crisis or medical emergency.

2.) What can the new plane do?
The Brazilian C-390 differs fundamentally from its predecessor, the “Hercules” from the US:

  • Unlike “Hercules” she does Jet engines and no more propellers. This means that it flies faster, higher and further than the “Herc”.
  • The C-390 was completed in 2010 newly developedto explicitly compensate for the shortcomings of the well-known ‘Hercules’ – the design dates from the 1950s – and to exploit them on the world market
  • Many parts of the C-390 come from the civilian sector known – which makes maintenance easier. For example, the engines are 90 percent identical to the engines of an Airbus 320.
  • Around 10 Companies from Austria are used as suppliers, the largest of which is the aircraft parts manufacturer FACC from Ried im Innkreis.
  • If Point of criticism Competitors claim that the aircraft is very new and not yet ‘tested’, like the 70 year old ‘Hercules’. In Europe, Portugal and Hungary are already using it, while the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Austria will follow.

3.) What tasks still need to be completed?
In addition to “line flight operations” for the numerous foreign contingents of the federal army, the aircraft can also take on other missions. Also contains:

  • Drop off paratroopers
  • Forest fire fighting
  • Dropping supplies from the sky
  • Aerial reconnaissance/rescue missions (“search and rescue”)
  • Aerial refueling

4.) How does the plane fly?
Probably like an airplane. The cockpit (see above) is barely distinguishable from a modern civilian aircraft; it is controlled by a sidestick, a joystick on the edge of the cockpit. All flight parameters are projected on a head-up display, a glass window in front of the pilots’ eyes. At the same time, large, colored multi-function displays show flight mode, navigation data, engine data and the like. The cockpit contains a pilot and a co-pilot (the C-130K is currently piloted by three people in the cockpit), and a so-called ‘loadmaster’ also flies in the hold.

5.) When are the planes due to arrive?
The current C-130K ‘Hercules’ must be decommissioned within six years at the latest; their construction has reached the end of its lifespan. They also cannot be resold. Over the next six years, the entire fleet, including pilots, maintenance personnel and flight instructors, will have to be converted. The first C-390 could land in Austria from 2026, followed by even more aircraft.

Source: Krone


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