Four engine turboprop transport aircraft
On 27 May 2003, Belgium (together with France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom) has ordered 7 Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Airbus Military) A400M airlifters to replace its Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The Belgian Air Component will also manage the single aircraft which will be bought by Luxemburg. The A400M's first flight took place on 11 December 2009 at Sevilla, Spain where the final assembly facility is established. Currently 174 aircraft are ordered by 8 nations.
Lockheed C-130H Hercules
Four engine transport aircraft
In 1970 the Belgian Air Force ordered twelve Lockheed C-130H Hercules (type 382C-25D) transport aircraft to replacement its sizeable fleet of Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcars. The Hercules aircraft were delivered from mid 1972 onwards to Melsbroek based N° 20 Squadron of the 15th Wing. During the first years of operation the aircraft wore a 'Vietnam'-style camouflage scheme which later on gave way for an overall grey. In 1990 a 'Mid-Life Improvement Programme' was started, a programme that included replacement of the outer wings (from engine N°2 and N°3 outwards) in phase 1, the installation of a self-protection suite and a complete new 'glass' cockpit with advanced avionics in phase 2. Belgian Air Force C-130's have proven their value during numerous humanitarian deployments, in which several missions, considered impossible by some, were successfully completed. The Lockheed C-130H Hercules is earmarked to be replaced by the all new Airbus Military A-400M, but considerable delays in this multi-nation project has postponed their entry into service so that the Belgian "Hercs" will be around for at least another decade.