The first RAAF C-130J Hercules to undergo the Block 8.1 hardware and software upgrade has touched down in RAAF Base Richmond, Defence announced.
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The initial upgrades were undertaken by Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force in the United States, with the remaining 11 aircraft expected to undergo upgrades locally at RAAF Base Richmond with the support of Airbus Australia Pacific.
According to Defence, the hardware and software modifications improve the accuracy of the Hercules’ navigation systems, especially during landing in remote areas across the Asia-Pacific region. It also includes safety upgrades ensuring the ongoing protection of the RAAF’s No.37 Squadron personnel.
The recent upgrades also provide enhanced friend-or-foe identification systems and guarantee that the aircraft remain in compliance with global air traffic management regulations.
“Block 8.1 will make it easier for crews to operate the Hercules in a range of complicated environments, from civilian airspace around airports through to airfields on the frontline,” Group Captain James Badgery, Officer Commanding the Air Lift Systems Program Office, said.
“Hercules' crews have often been first on the scene during times of crisis, evidenced by the support delivered during the Kabul Airlift in August, and Block 8.1 will ensure the fleet can continue flying these operations safely.
“Airbus Australia Pacific has already commenced the first local upgrade of an aircraft to Block 8.1 standard at Richmond, and the remaining fleet will be modified as they become due for major scheduled servicing.”
The Hercules fleet has been in operation since 1999 and can carry 20 tonnes of cargo or 120 passengers.
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