New Zealand Taps C-130J as Preferred Hercules Replacement, Releases Defence Capability Plan

New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence has released the latest Defence Capability Plan (2019), noting that it will maintain up to NZD20 billion ($13.24 billion) in capital investment out to 2030 as outlined in the preceding document unveiled in 2016.

Defence Minister Ron Mark also announced on June 11 that the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules has been selected as the preferred option to replace the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) venerable fleet of legacy C-130H Hercules airlifters.  The next procured aircraft is expected to fill the Future Tactical Air Mobility capability role for the NZDF, a requirement spelled out in the Defence Capability Plan as the highest priority.

The defense minister’s statement stressed that a final decision has not been made, but that the New Zealand government would seek costing information on the C-130J through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channel.  The statement also noted that no unit figure, detailed costs, planned funding or budgetary implications have yet been drawn, but that a Project Implementation Business Case will be progressed to the governing cabinet during the next fiscal year.  The Defence Capability Plan, meanwhile, noted an estimated NZD1 billion ($662 million) price tag for the project.

Other air domain-oriented projects outlined in the Defence Capability Plan include an NZD300-600 million Enhanced Maritime Awareness Capability that would provide civil air surveillance assets allowing for the incoming fleet of four P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to be freed up for other missions near or farther abroad.  This project is expected to take hold in 2020, while further out an investment decision is planned for 2026 for the Future Strategic Air Mobility acquisition plan to replace the current fleet of two Boeing 757s at an estimated cost of NZD300-600 million ($200-$400 million).

Following this will be an investment decision determined in 2027 regarding the Future Air Crew Training Capability, a replacement project for the handful of leased King Air 350s, and then, after 2030, an upgrade program for the P-8A MPA fleet, plus the acquisition of long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

A C-130J Super Hercules.  Image – U.S. Air Force/Yasuo Osakabe

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is Forecast International’s International Military Markets Group Leader. Specializing in history and political science with a background in finance and economics, Dan provides insight into the military markets of both the Europe and the Asia, Australia and Pacific Rim regions. Dan's work has been cited in Aerospace and Defense News, Aerotech News and Review, Defense Talk, Global Defense Review, and Small Wars Journal, among others, and by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. In addition, Dan has been quoted in Arabian Business, the Financial Times, Flight International, The National, Bloomberg and National Defense Magazine. He has also contributed commentary to Defense News and appeared as a guest on the online radio show Midrats and on The Media Line. As editor of International Military Markets, Europe and International Military Markets, Asia, Australia & Pacific Rim, Dan brings a wealth of expertise on the political and economic forces shaping these markets.

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