The Greek Prime Minister ordered the purchase of six second-hand C-130J Super Hercules from Italy, as Greece’s current fleet of C-130B/H aircraft is in extremely poor condition.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis took it upon himself to solve a problem that has plagued the Hellenic Air Force for nearly 20 years: the shortage of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, given that almost none of the aircraft were in flying condition.
The state of the C-130 fleet came to light during a failed attempt to move the Greek Special Disaster Response Team (EDT) from the city of Thessaloniki to Greece and airlift it over Turkey, to join the first Greek EMAK team and Turkish and global rescuers in efforts to rescue people trapped under the rubble left behind by the recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated central/southern Turkey and northern Syria.
The second EMAK team, consisting of 15 rescuers and trained dogs, left Thessaloniki at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday in a C-130 aircraft provided by the Hellenic Air Force. But a technical failure forced the aircraft to land at Elefsina airport. The Greek rescuers finally managed to reach Turkey later, in a C-27J (much smaller than a Hercules), but without their equipment.
On the occasion of this situation, the Prime Minister asked for an update and immediate proposals to put a definitive end to the problematic situation of the Air Force’s troubled fleet of transport aircraft, which has been causing problems for many years.
The solution arrived at is the immediate purchase of second-hand C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, which are available for sale from the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare).
After direct contacts with Rome, Athens was informed that in the first phase the Italians have four C-130J transport aircraft for sale, while in the next period they may sell two more to Greece, bringing the total to six. The MoD had already considered the possibility of buying second-hand aircraft to address the problem and was already aware that the Italians had C-130J transports for sale and in very good condition.
Aeronautica Militare previously had 12 C-130Js and ten C-130J-30 stretchers, delivered between May 2000 and February 2005, but several of these are currently in storage. These Super Hercules are also sought after by the Swedish Air Force, which has already acquired four as part of its capability modernisation programme and will seek to acquire two more.
Alongside the decision to buy the second-hand Super Hercules from Italy, orders were given to speed up the maintenance of the three existing HAFs C-130s.