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High-speed comms upgrades for Aussie Hercules fleet

The remaining Royal Australian Air Force fleet of C-130J Hercules tactical airlift aircraft will receive a high-speed communications upgrade to support continued operations.

As part of the RAAF roll out, five C-130J Super Hercules will receive the Honeywell Ka-Band satellite communications (SATCOM) system to provide broadband internet connectivity for crew and passengers.

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One Hercules was already fitted with this system in 2017, and fitment of this system to an additional five C-130J Hercules airframes will commence this year. The system allows for streaming of high-definition video as well as supporting complex mission planning while the aircraft is in flight.

Air Commodore William Kourelakos, Commander of RAAF Air Mobility Group, said the system will improve Defence’s ability to respond to a crisis.

"Our Hercules crews and passengers are often first on the scene in times of crisis, and require timely information at their destination," AIRCDRE Kourelakos said.

The RAAF’s fleet of 12 C-130J Hercules already carry L-Band SATCOM, which permits global voice communications and data transfer. The Ka-Band system will complement current satellite transfer rates and enable communications across a broader spectrum of flight conditions.

AIRCDRE Kourelakos added, "Already, we’ve demonstrated the utility of this system on one Hercules, streaming video from missions in the Pacific and allowing basic command and control functions to be carried out from the aircraft."

The installation of Honeywell Ka-Band SATCOM antennas will occur during scheduled maintenance works by Airbus Australia Pacific at RAAF Base Richmond, with fitment on the additional five aircraft completed by 2022.

The C-130J Hercules is a medium-sized tactical air-lifter that can deliver cargo to airfields with short unsurfaced runways, and airdrop cargo and paratroops by parachute. A fleet of 12 are operated from RAAF Base Richmond by No. 37 Squadron. They were delivered to the base between 1999 and 2001.

The C-130J is an important air link for Australian Defence Force personnel overseas, with two aircraft deployed in the Middle East to provide assistance to medical treatment locations.

The C-130J Hercules can carry up to 128 passengers, or eight pallets of cargo. It can work alongside other airlifters, including the C-27J Spartan and C-17A Globemaster III. Upgrades to the C-130J have enhanced communications and information-sharing, and improved the aircraft's endurance during battle.

The C-130J Hercules can also be used in other roles, such as search and survivor assistance and medical evacuation of wounded or sick patients.

High-speed comms upgrades for Aussie Hercules fleet
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