Fourth C-130 retired from Belgian Air Component, seven left, all for sale

The Belgian Air Component (Air Force) on Thursday, July 23, withdrew from service a fourth C-130H Hercules, registered CH-04 in service since October 1972, as part of the transition to the arrival, expected in a few months, of the first of seven ordered Airbus A400M Atlas.

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Fourth C 130 retired from Belgian Air Component seven left all for sale The C-130H Hercules registered CH-04 made its last flight on July 23, 2020 (Picture source: Wikimedia)

The plane made its last flight on Thursday, July 23, after a nearly 48-year career with the 20th Squadron of the 15th Airlift Wing based in Melsbroek (Brussels). This is the fourth C-130H sent to retirement after a long career. The first was CH-08, in December 2017, followed by CH-10 in December 2018, and CH-03 in November 2019. So, the Belgian fleet of tactical transport aircraft is now reduced to seven aircraft. The withdrawal of the last of the initial twelve C-130Hs bought in 1972 to replace the aging Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars and DC-3/C-47 Dakotas is scheduled for December 2021.

One aircraft, CH-06, was lost in an accident on July 15, 1996, at Eindhoven Air Base (southern Netherlands), killing 34 people, including the four crew members and members of a Dutch military band, the Belga news agency reminds. Another one, CH-02, was destroyed on May 4, 2006, by a fire in a hangar of the company Sabena Technics in Zaventem (civilian side of Melsbroek/Brussels) during a major maintenance; it was replaced in March 2009 by a second-hand aircraft, an ex-C-130E "hurricane hunter" of the US Air Force built in 1965 but brought to the same standard as the rest of the Belgian C-130H fleet. It was registered CH-13.

The Directorate General of Material Resources (DG-MR) of Defense has put up for sale nine C-130Hs, spare parts, tools and other related support systems, which will require the approval of the US government.

Sabena Aerospace and HEICO’s Blue Aerospace subsidiary awarded Belgian Defense organization of C-130H fleet contract

Sabena Aerospace, a Blueberry Company, and Blue Aerospace, a HEICO Company, today announced the award of the sale of the Belgian Defense C-130 aircraft fleet and associated equipment & inventory by the Belgian Defense Organization. This award resulted from the Belgian Defense Tender No. MRMP – A/A2 N° 19AAV01 and consists of all assets related to the Belgian Air Force C-130 fleet including, aircraft, engines, propellers, spare parts, and ground support equipment.

Stephane Burton, Blueberry President and Sabena Aerospace CEO commented, “The award will guarantee Sabena Aerospace with continued work for its C130 maintenance line in Belgium, as the Belgian Air Force moves operations to the A400 fleet. This will also provide the Belgium economy with a tangible return and allow Sabena Aerospace to expand its end-to-end C130 maintenance offering to new or existing C130 operators. We are very pleased to be partnering with Blue Aerospace, an industry leader in defense aftermarket support, and we see this as the beginning of an expanding and long-term relationship that will lead to other platforms and projects under the newly created Blueberry company.”

Eric Mendelson, Co-President of HEICO Corporation and President & CEO of HEICO Flight Support Group commented, “We are very excited to team with Blueberry and its subsidiary SABENA Aerospace. This purchase will further accelerate HEICO’s continued growth in the defense sustainment market, as we make the assets available for resale to end-users worldwide.”

Michael Navon, Blue Aerospace President, added, “We are delighted to team with Sabena Aerospace on this well-maintained fleet of C130H aircraft, utilizing Sabena’s decades of experience in maintaining this fleet. We also see this as the beginning of long-term cooperation with other Blueberry portfolio companies.”