The Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands has chosen the C-390M from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer as the successor and replacement for its C-130H Hercules. The first aircraft should be delivered in 2026.
As explained by the Dutch Ministry of Defense, the 4 C-130s operated by the Air Force have reached the end of their service life. Initially, the intention was to keep them in flight until at least 2031, but they are becoming less and less deployable due to decreasing availability rate. It was therefore decided to replace them in 2020.
Secretary of State Christophe van der Maat, who explained to the Lower House the motivations that led to the purchase of the C-390s, reported that the original plan was to acquire four new aircraft, but it was later decided to go for five units. The increase is motivated by lessons learned from the Afghanistan evacuations in 2021 and to respond to the dramatically changed security situation on Europe’s eastern flank.
«These have underscored the importance of guaranteed availability of transport capacity for the armed forces. With the expansion from 2,400 to 4,000 flying hours, units can be supported more and more frequently. The Netherlands also contributes to filling a European shortfall. Furthermore, the additional transport capacity will benefit the speed of response in case of calamities,» Christophe van der Maat added.
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The Ministry of Defense placed several requirements on the successor to the C-130. Research showed that the C-390M was better than Lockheed Martin’s C-130J, which was considered an alternative.
The C-390M has higher availability, performs better on several operational and technical requirements, and requires less maintenance. In addition, the C-390M can already meet the minimum requirement of 2,400 flight hours with 4 aircraft. The C-130J needs 5 aircraft for that.
The C-390M will also participate in the European Airlift Command. This is a cooperation of 7 European countries in the field of air transport. The incorporation of the C-390M will benefit the pooling and sharing of capabilities in a European context.
Estimated costs will increase because the Ministry of Defense wants to increase the number of flight hours. Initially, the estimated costs were between 250 and 1 billion euros. Now it will be between 1 and 2.5 billion euros.
Embraer released a statement in which they seem more than pleased with the selection of the Millennium:
«Embraer is honored by the decision of the Dutch Ministry of Defense to select the C-390 Millennium multi-mission transport aircraft. Recognizing that there is still much work to be done in the coming months, we are committed to the success of this new phase of cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Defense. In this process, Embraer is dedicated to deepening collaboration with local industry and knowledge centers.»
With its third European contract under its belt, the C-390’s star is on the rise, positioning itself as a real competitor to the almost unbeatable C-130J Super Hercules.
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