The New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) has assessed the capabilities of the C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft as part of its long-term review of the country’s airlift capability.
The MoD is currently in the process of receiving C17 price and availability information from the US Government. It received a first-hand experience of the Royal Australian Air Force C-17 capabilities, when it delivered a consignment of sandstone for the Anzac war memorial in Wellington.
New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said: "Consideration of New Zealand’s continuing engagement in the Antarctic, and our ability to respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian aid in the Pacific, means options for future airlift capability need to be explored.
"The need for replacement airlift capability has been long anticipated and is foreshadowed in the Defence Mid Point Rebalancing Review.
"While there is no commitment to purchase any C17s, it seems sensible to view the Australian aircraft while it is in the capital.
"While the C17 may not prove to be the best solution for New Zealand, we owe it to ourselves to look at it seriously while we can."
The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) currently has five upgraded C-130H Hercules aircraft and two Boeing 757s in its transport fleet, which are scheduled to be retired from service between 2018 and 2025.
New Zealand Labour defence spokesman Phil Goff was quoted by The New Zealand Herald as saying that the C-17 deserved serious consideration as a replacement for the ageing C-130 Hercules fleet.
Manufactured by Boeing, the C-17 Globemaster is a military tactical transport aircraft designed to conduct rapid strategic airlift of troops and supply of palleted cargo to main operating bases or forward-operating bases in extreme climates worldwide.
Apart from Australia, the aircraft is also operated by air forces in the US, India, the UAE, Canada, Qatar, the UK, and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of Nato and Partnership for Peace nations.
Image: New Zealand reviewed a RAAF Boeing C-17 aircraft as part of a long term review of its airlift capability. Photo: Courtesy of Amir Ahadi.