The New Zealand Defence Force announced Tuesday it is set to upgrade its current 50-year-old fleet of C-130 Hercules planes using C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft, reports AP.
The country’s Defence Minister Ron Mark said the estimated cost of the Lockheed Martin transport aircraft was over 1 billion New Zealand dollars ($661 million), and the Cabinet has decided to seek detailed cost information for the replacement aircraft, announced as “the highest priority project within the Coalition Government’s Defence Capability Plan 2019”.
“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 in a press statement.
“The current fleet is increasingly costly to maintain, and is taking longer to put through maintenance,” stated the defence minister.
The C-130J-30 Super Hercules was selected for offering the necessary range and payload capability as well as fully meeting NZDF’s requirements.
The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada all have the planes.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin) and is touted as being capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings; it was designed as a troop, medevac, and cargo transport aircraft.
According to the defence minister, the investments are primarily humanitarian in nature, designed to provide assistance and security to New Zealand's Pacific neighbours.