The ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s northern region has a new turn as forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – a rebel group claims to have shot down a Lockheed C-130E Hercules tactical transport aircraft of the Ethiopian Air Force in June 23.
The downed C-130E Hercules aircraft with serial 1564 (c/n 382-3822), was carrying troops and ammunition to the frontlines when it succumbed to enemy anti-air action, leaving only one of the type in service.
Ethiopia’s C-130s are operated by the 15 Squadron at Debre Zeit Air Base, a part of Harar Meda Airport in Bishoftu. There have been no confirmed survivor in the crash.
The Ethiopian Air Force operates two C-130Es donated by the United States in July 2014 and 2018 to assist in airlift and transportation duties for the Ethiopian forces currently battling the deadly Somalian terrorist group al-Shabbab.
Operated as serial 62-1858, the US-donated C-130E had clocked 22,739 flight hours before being transferred to the Ethiopian Air Force.
The C-130E is an extended-range development of the C-130B, with two underwing fuel tanks and increased range and endurance capabilities.
Ethiopia launched a military offensive against the TPLF in the Tigray region last November.
In 2019, an Ethiopian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker jet crashed after takeoff from the Debrezeit Air Force base, 50 km Southeast of Addis Ababa, killing two pilots.
For transport duties, Ethiopian Air Force operates three Antonov An-12, a single Antonov An-32, and two DHC-6 Twin Otters.
In addition, two C-130Bs, entered operational service in 1997, and another two Lockheed L-100-30 Hercules, in 2007. One C-130B crashed in August 2013, while the second L-100-30 has been withdrawn from active service.
This leaves a C-130B and L-100-30 operational with 15 Squadron at Debre Zeit.