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Last Belgian C-130H Hercules to be withdrawn from service in 2022


The Belgian Air Component (Air Force) plans the withdrawal of its last Lockheed C-130H airlifters for 2022, when six of its seven ordered Airbus A-400M Atlas should have been delivered.


Last Belgian C 130H Hercules to be withdrawn from service in 2022 Belgian Lockheed C-130H Hercules (Picture source: Daniel Brackx / Belgian Wings)


The Belgian C-130Hs begin to be expensive to maintain in operational condition. In 1972, Belgium bought 12 Lockheed C-130Hs to replace its 22 Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcars operated along its Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Dakotas (the last one being withdrawn from service in 1976). Nine Hercules remain currently in service in the Belgian Air Component. One more will be withdrawn in 2019 and 2020, five in 2021, and the last ones in 2022. This is what is planned but will the schedule be respected? The Belgian ministry of Defense remains cautious, as delays in the delivery plan for the A-400M Atlas already forced to extend the calendar: the seven A-400M Atlas should have been delivered starting in 2018, than 2019, than mid-2020 until 2023. Now, two aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in 2020, three in 2021, one in 2022 and one in 2023. Wait and see...

Another serious concern resides in the new, much larger hangars to build at Melsbroek (military side of the civilian Brussels International Airport) to accommodate these A-400Ms. Their construction is planned for end 2019, early 2020 at a cost estimated to 20 million EUR, aircraft maintenance equipment included. Sander Loones, the previous minister of Defense (a position now assigned to Didier Reynders), had warned about the excessive tightness of this plan. One more concern for the Belgian Air Component.