House authorizers approve procurement of two more cargo planes

By Vanessa Montalbano / May 23, 2024 at 1:34 PM

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday quietly approved an amendment to the defense policy bill to buy two more C-130J Super Hercules via a voice vote on a package of amendments.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), would boost fiscal year 2025 procurement funds for the C-130J transport aircraft by $220 million for two additional aircraft by reducing the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s fund for operation and maintenance by $170 million and the Air Force’s O&M allowance by $50 million.

The Lockheed Martin-made Super Hercules, which is mostly used for airlift in tactical zones, can airdrop loads of roughly 42,000 pounds and carry a variety of oversized cargo, including armored vehicles. Variations of the aircraft have recently been used to deliver aid and other humanitarian operations into Gaza amid conflict in the Middle East.

“The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas,” the service has said. It is meant to replace aging C-130Es and some C-130Hs with a newer, more energy efficient model that has extended range capabilities and can take off or land in shorter distances, among other improvements. There are several variations of the C-130J platform, including one with an extended fuselage, another for weather reconnaissance and others for special operations, combat search and rescue and close air support.

In its FY-25 budget request, the Air Force is asking to divest six C-130H Hercules. It would make no purchases of any variation of C-130 aircraft.