The New Zealand Ministry of Defence has selected the Lockheed Martin-built C-130J-30 Super Hercules as the preferred option for its military transport replacement programme.
The C-130J-30 aircraft will replace five ageing New Zealand military C-130H Hercules transport aircraft.
The government will now seek detailed costing information for the C-130J-30 Super Hercules through the US foreign military sale process.
New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark said: “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.”
The New Zealand military is looking to replace the current fleet due to increased maintenance period and costs.
Mark added: “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 New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) requirements.”
“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.”
NZDF intends to acquire tactical air transport capability for movement of personnel and cargo around the country, the South Pacific, down to Antarctica and across the globe.
Mark stated that the government opted for the C-130J-30 as it is a ‘tried and tested’ aircraft.
“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,” said Mark.
“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.”
Under the government’s Defence Capability Plan 2019, the replacement programme is estimated to cost more than NZD1bn ($658.76m).
A formal contract for the procurement of the C-130J-30 aircraft will be signed at a later stage.
Other aspirants for the programme included Airbus and Embraer, reported Reuters. While Airbus proposed its A400M aircraft, the Brazilian firm offered to provide its KC-390 as replacement for New Zealand’s C-130 Hercules.