Insight | Global Xpress ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in Royal Australian Air Force trials


Global Xpress ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in Royal Australian Air Force trials


Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) becomes the first C-130J Hercules operator in the world to install Inmarsat GX system across fleet with its 2020 commitment to increase rollout across a total of 6 aircraft.

For long range airborne communications on a Hercules, passengers and crew had historically always only had the option of using HF radio. That changed in 2015 when Air Force began to upgrade its fleet of C-130J Hercules aircraft with Inmarsat L-band services, providing voice and data connectivity globally.

The RAAF’s continuing mission to discover new systems for air mobility aircraft to support embarked forces trialled Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) service in December 2017. During this six-month successful trial, the RAAF utilised GX via a Honeywell JetWaveTM GX satellite communication system on board a C-130J Hercules transport aircraft.

The airborne communications service was thoroughly tested throughout the trial period, culminating in a VIP in-air presentation. Various applications were demonstrated including secure, live encrypted file transfer and video streaming in-flight.

Following the demonstration, Air Vice Marshal Warren McDonald, Australian Defence Force Chief of Joint Capabilities, commented on GX performance: “This exceeds expectations, is future and customer-focused, and performed flawlessly.”

The success of the trial found Global Xpress to be this tactical workhorse aircraft’s perfect mission enabler.

Commander Air Mobility Group Air Commodore Carl Newman said the high-speed SATCOM capability would allow aircrew and passengers to better respond during dynamic scenarios:

"Deploying a Hercules might require a flight of up to 10 hours and, in that time, the operating environment for both the crew and embarked joint capabilities could vary significantly. We often deploy the C-130J Hercules as a first responder for missions such as disaster relief, sending them to remote locations where communications infrastructure is often damaged or non-existent."

Six aircraft have been currently been fitted out with the GX system and as the fleet gets replaced with new aircraft, they will enter service with Inmarsat GX onboard as a line fit item.

The success of this trial and the capability of the GX system as a force enabler has been reinforced by the New Zealand Air Force who have committed to five Global Xpress enabled C-130s in 2022.

The New Zealand Air Force, since the success of this trial, has further reinforced the GX system capability as a force enabler by committing to five Global Xpress enabled C-130 aircraft in 2022.

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There will be more emphasis placed on the joint force – bringing together different land, air, sea, intelligence, electronic warfare, cyber and space capabilities so the ADF can apply more force more rapidly and more effectively when called on to do so. 

Defence White Paper 2016

A Herculean effort: the C-130 still best for the job, more than 60 years after introduction

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules remains the longest continuously manufactured military aircraft of all time, at over 60 years. The four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft was designed originally to move troops, medevac and cargo when it first entered service in the US in 1956, followed by Australia. The Hercules has over time evolved over 40 models and serviced more than 60 nations. Embarking on a range of missions from airborne assault through to search and rescue, maritime patrol, aerial refuelling, scientific research support, and tactical airlifting.

The C-130 marked 50 years of continuous service with the US Air Force, its original primary customer, in 2007; the fifth aircraft to do so.

Enabling mission success for C-130 operators across the world

The C-130 remains the most important, flexible military transport aircraft for operators across the world. Successfully adopting the Inmarsat Global Xpress satcom system enables endless opportunities for mission success. 

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