Austria Selects The C-390 Millennium As C-130 Replacement


C-390 Austria
C-390 in Austrian Air Force livery (Photo Courtesy Embraer)

The Austrian Ministry of Defence announced it would select the C-390 Millennium aircraft as its new tactical transport.

On Sept. 20, 2023, the Austrian Ministry of Defence announced that it selected Embraer C-390 Millennium to replace its aging C-130K fleet. According to Austrian Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner, they are aiming to buy four C-390s between 130 million to 150 million Euro ($138.6 million to $160 million) each. Due to its relatively small force, the Austrian Air Force is considering a joint order between the Netherlands.  The Dutch have also previously expressed intentions to buy the C-390 but is yet to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

As of now, the Austrian Air Force operates an ageing fleet of C-130Ks transferred from the RAF between 2003 to 2018. The airframes have been first bought by the RAF in 1967 before undergoing a midlife upgrade by Marshall Aerospace. The decision was made to buy C-390s instead of the previously anticipated C-130Js. While a proper MoU is yet to be signed, Embraer says that it is in the final stages of finishing up the deal with the Austrian government.


Recent updates to the C-390’s capabilities

It appears that the C-390 sales team is ramping up its efforts on the program since the 2023 Paris Airshow. Since then, multiple countries including the Czech Republic have expressed interest in buying the platform. Compared to its nearest competitor, the C-130J-30, the Millenium offers better range, higher operational ceiling, and more cargo capacity.

The most recent update on the C-390 announced at the Paris Airshow boasts a wide range of increased capabilities such as Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) system, MEDEVAC ready cargo module, paradrop, aerial firefighting, buddy-to-buddy air refuelling, and provisions for a Flying Boom modification for the Agile Tanker.

It should be noted that on top of the current Embraer C-390’s capability, the C-130 has better manoeuvrability, quicker response to thrust change, and better low-speed qualities allowing for it to air refuel helicopters. Furthermore, the Hercules have been dominating the tactical airlift market worldwide for decades.

Although the market is largely consisted of the C-130 fleet, the recent rise in sales of the C-390 suggests that Embraer may have just found a niche market for it to out-compete the C-130.

Wonwoo is a student journalist and contributor to The Aviationist based in London, United Kingdom. Currently studying MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a keen interest in OSINT, plane spotting and aircraft design. He is a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Army, having served as an artillery Fire Direction Centre Vehicle Radio Operator.


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