USAF Wants African Nations To Buy C-130s For Shared Relief Missions

The U.S. Air Force plans to call on a collection of African nations to pool funds to buy a small number of Lockheed Martin C-130s to comprise a new, shared fleet to help with humanitarian missions.

Gen. James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, says the idea will be a main discussion point at a meeting of the Association of African Air Forces (AAAF) in Senegal in October. The group recently met at a lower level to talk about the idea before the air chiefs come together.

Hecker says the goal is for C-130s to initially focus on the shared humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions from a central location on the continent. While the focus will be on HADR, the C-130s could eventually help with counter-extremism operations, Hecker tells Aviation Week in an interview. The AAAF includes 28 nations, which formally signed an agreement in 2015 to network air capabilities on the continent. Ten African nations operate the aircraft already, according to Aviation Week data.

The model is based on the Strategic Airlift Capability’s Heavy Airlift Wing—a small fleet of C-17s based in Hungary that are used by member-states Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the U.S.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.