New Zealand’s Defence Minister Ron Mark announced yesterday the selection of the C-130J-30 Super Hercules as the preferred option for the replacement of the country’s ageing C-130H aircraft.
FILE PHOTO: A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H(NZ) Hercules in Antarctica. Three of New Zealand’s Hercules were the first three H-model Hercs off the Lockheed production line, built in 1965. NZDF photo.
He said the replacement of the five Hercules H-model transport aircraft was the highest priority project within the government’s Defence Capability Plan 2019.
Detailed costing information for the C-130J-30 Super Hercules has yet to be finalised or announced but the Defence Capability Plan 2019 noted the estimated cost would be more than NZ$1 billion.
“The current Hercules have served us well since the 1960s, but they have reached the end of the road, and suitable and proven replacement aircraft will need to be sourced,” Mr Mark said.
”The current fleet is increasing in cost to maintain, and is taking longer to put through maintenance.
“After considering the range of military air transport aircraft carefully, the Super Hercules has been selected as it offers the necessary range and payload capability as well as fully meeting NZDF’s requirements.”
A price will be sought through the United States’ Foreign Military Sale process for the C-130J-30 Super Hercules, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
The C-130J is a proven aircraft, with more than 400 C-130Js having been delivered to more than 20 nations, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
“It is used by key defence partners and carries a greater payload faster and further than the current fleet, with no loss of ability to land where our current Hercules are deployed,” Mr Mark said.
“Tactical air transport capability is one of the highest-value assets available to New Zealand, offering huge utility to the community and the nation, enabling movement of personnel and cargo around the country, the South Pacific, down to Antarctica and all around the globe.
“We need a proven performer, and this aircraft is tried and tested.
“We cannot take risks with what is one of our most critical military capabilities.”
No final contract decision has been made, on either platform numbers, detailed costs, or funding and Budget implications.
The state of the current fleet can be judged from a statement from the NZDF a few days after the upgrade was announced…
The RNZAF currently operates five C-130(NZ) Hercules.
It took delivery of the first three Hercules (NZ7001 – NZ7003) in 1965. These were the first C-130H production models off the Lockheed production line.
A further two C-130H (NZ7004 – NZ7005) were added in 1969.
Recently, a group of New Zealand Vietnam veterans were flown to their reunion in the same Hercules that flew them to war 50 years ago – see story here ––>