For some days now, the rumour has been circulating, more and more insistent, that Greece has asked Italy to sell of 6 Lockheed Martin C-130Js.
At the moment, these are only rumours and there is no confirmation from the Italian authorities.
The Greek request derives from the fact that Athens’ transport fleet is now reduced to a minimum (there would only be one operational C-130H) and that it is therefore necessary to make amends as soon as possible.
On the other hand, Italy has put some of its C-130Js up for sale (4 sold to Sweden) and the agreement with Greece could concern the immediate sale of 4 C-130Js and, at a later date, 2 more.
The agreement would concern the C-130J-30, the stretched version of the Hercules.
The sale of 10 C-130Js (or even 12 if the Swedish order of 4+2 also goes ahead) would deprive Italy of half of its tactical transport fleet based on the Hercules, of which there are currently 20. It should be specified that not all Italian C-130Js appear to be operational at the moment.
To date, Italy has 5 kits for conversion to KC-130Js. In addition, the Italian Air Force also has 12 Leonardo C-27Js, which, however, have a lower payload capacity (as well as operational range) than the C-130s.
At this point, the question would naturally arise as to the Italian Air Force’s intentions on heavy transport.
There are several options on paper, some more viable and others less so:
1) There is talk of buying four Boeing C-17As from the USAF, ANG examples. This would allow Italy to acquire strategic transport capabilities that it does not have today, but it seems complicated that the USAF would want to deprive itself of 4 C-17s when these are no longer produced;
2) There is also the Airbus A400M option. In recent months, we have seen the European aircraft operating from Pisa and there could be the possibility of buying examples already ordered but which will not be delivered
3) Then there are the two more exotic possibilities, the Embraer KC-390 and the Kawasaki C-2. The former, however, seems too small for a strategic need while the latter appears to be an impractical option (at the moment) for different reasons, not least logistical ones
4) Then there remains the option of acquiring new C-130Js but deliveries, in this case, would take place in a few years.
At the moment, none of these possibilities seems too concrete. We will see what happens in the future, but if the sale to Greece is confirmed, work will have to begin immediately to find a replacement for the Hercules sold.