The New Zealand government has confirmed plans to buy five Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft for NZ$1.52 billion ($990.6 million). Last year, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) selected these aircraft as the preferred option to replace the current Hercules fleet. The U.S. State Department has given the go-ahead for the potential sale of five Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), setting in motion the replacement program for its C-130H that began sometime in 2015. The first Super Hercules is scheduled to be delivered in 2024, with the full fleet starting operations by 2025.
Along with the new fleet, the program will include a comprehensive avionics and electronic countermeasures suite, including Multi-Information Distribution System (MIDS)/Link-16 Low Video Terminal (LVT)-BU2, AN/AAQ-24(V)N LAIRCM (Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures), AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System (MWS); eight AN/APN-241 Low Power Color Radars; eight AN/ALR-56M Missile Warning System Receivers, and L3 Wescam MX-20HD Electro-Optical/Infrared Imaging System, among others. The aircraft and full mission flight simulator are being acquired through the United States’ Foreign Military Sales process as part of a package that includes aircrew and maintainer training.
The RNZAF announced that the C-130J was the “preferred replacement” for its five C-130Hs, three of which were acquired in 1965 and the remaining pair in 1968. Its preference for the Super Hercules comes as little surprise, as it usually takes reference from its closest military ally, Australia, for interoperability reasons. Embraer offered the C-390 to the RNZAF as a C-130H replacement, and also to provide a maritime patrol capability, but the C-130J was selected for its “range, payload and as a proven platform The RNZAF’s Hercules last received a mid-life upgrade between 2008 and 2017 that saw the integration of “glass” cockpit, re-wiring, center wing refurbishment, and component upgrades.
The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems. As of February 2018, 400 C-130J aircraft have been delivered to 17 nations. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. During more than 60 years of service, the family has participated in military, civilian, and humanitarian aid operations. The Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 is a Lockheed Martin designation for its 15 ft (4.6 m) extended fuselage variant; designated CC-130J by USAF for a short time after 2002.