Dutch Defence selects Embraer C-390M to replace the Hercules C-130

Embraer C-390 MILLENNIUM

The Dutch Defence has found a successor for the C-130H Hercules in the C-390M of the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. The intention is that the first new transport aircraft will arrive in the Netherlands in 2026, State Secretary Christophe van der Maat wrote this to the House of Representatives today.

The 4 Defence C-130s have reached the end of their lifespan. Initially, it was the intention to continue flying with them until at least 2031, but they are less and less often deployable due to defects. It was therefore decided in 2020 to replace them.

Where initially the plan was to acquire 4 new aircraft, this will become 5. There is a need for more flying hours, writes Van der Maat. He refers to the evacuations from Afghanistan in 2021 and the drastically changing security situation on Europe’s eastern flank. “They have underlined the importance of guaranteed availability of transport capacity for the armed forces. With an expansion from 2,400 to 4,000 flying hours, units can be supported better and more often. The Netherlands also contributes to filling a European deficit. Additional transport capacity also benefits the speed to respond to calamities.”


The Ministry of Defence set different requirements for the successor to the C-130. In research, the C-390M came out better than Lockheed Martin’s C-130J, which was seen as an alternative. For example, the availability of the C-390M is higher, the aircraft scores better on a number of operational and technical requirements and it requires less maintenance. In addition, the C-390M can already meet the minimum requirement of 2,400 flying hours with 4 aircraft. The C-130J needs 5 aircraft for this.

The intention is that the C-390M also participates in the European Air Transport Command. This is a partnership in the field of air transport of 7 European countries. Adding the C-390M will benefit the pooling and sharing of capacities in a European context. This is done with similar but also different types of transport aircraft.


Because Defence wants to make more flying hours, the estimated costs will also increase. Initially, the assumption was between €250 million and €1 billion. That will now be between €1 billion and €2.5 billion.

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