New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced that the NZ government has selected the Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules to replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) C-130H Hercules.
The announcement, made on June 11 in Wellington, will see the government request detailed pricing for five stretched fuselage C-130J-30 models, the requirement for which was considered the highest priority project in the most recent Defence Capability Plan 2019.
“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,” Minister Mark said in a statement. “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.”
The C-130J-30 was up against the Airbus A400M and the Embraer KC-390, including a corporate proposal for a service contract with wet-leased KC-390s. Japan’s Kawasaki had also confirmed at this year’s Avalon Airshow that it would offer its C-2 transport to New Zealand, while Northrop Grumman and Leonardo said they would jointly offer the C-27J Spartan.
“Tactical air transport capability is one of the highest value assets available to New Zealand, offering huge utility to the community and nation, enabling movement of personnel and cargo around the country, the South Pacific, down to Antarctica and all around the globe,” the Minister added.
“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.”
Minister Mark’s statement says that, while pricing has been requested for five aircraft, no final decision has yet been made on platform numbers. New Zealand also has a requirement to replace its Boeing 757-200 passenger and freighter aircraft in the strategic transport role from 2028.