ATHENS – Greece’s aging fleet of C-130 cargo aircraft – in such bad repair that most can’t fly – will be supplanted by the purchase of six second-hand C-130J Super Hercules from Italy, on order of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Newpost Media said that Greece’s fleet has been plagued for at least two decades with so many operational problems that it was essentially useless, no word why it took the government so long to act after buying French-made Rafale fighter jets to bolster the Air Force.
The problem only now came to light, the report said, after Greece wanted to move a second EMAK special disaster team to Turkey to help try rescue people trapped in the rubble of the deadly earthquake there that took 30,000 lives.
The second EMAK team, consisting of 15 rescuers, a trained dog, 3 paramedics and an engineer officer from the Fire Brigade, was leaving Thessaloniki on an outdated aircraft but a technical malfunction forced the aircraft to land at Elefsina airport.
The Greek rescuers were finally able to arrive in Turkey later, aboard a C-27J (much smaller than a Hercules), but without their equipment hindering their efforts to aid the rescue and recovery efforts.
That led Mitsotakis to authorize the immediate purchase of the used C-130J Super Hercules transports, which the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) had for sale.
Following direct contacts with Rome, Athens was informed that in a first phase the Italians had four C-130J transports available for sale, while in the following period they may sell another two to Greece, said the report.
Orders were also reportedly given to expedite the maintenance of the three C-130s that are in the hangars of Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB) and to be delivered to the Air Force this year, two by the summer, as now scheduled.
Greece also is said to want to buy some new C-130Js from the United States but those wouldn’t be able to be delivered before 2026 and Greece’s problem was acute and immediate.