The U.S. State Department has granted approval to a foreign military sale (FMS) proposal for the sale of five C-130J airlifters to New Zealand at the estimated cost of $1.4 billion. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) sent the necessary certification notifying Congress of the potential sale on November 20.
— Political-Military Affairs, US Dept of State (@StateDeptPM) November 20, 2019
The New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) already operates a fleet of five C-130H transport aircraft acquired from the U.S. between 1965 and 1968. These were given multiple upgrades by L3 Technologies, with the final work conducted between 2011 and 2012. The upgrades under Project Pegasus followed a 2002 decision to forego procurement of C-130Js under an option picked up in 1995.
#NewZealand cleared to buy 5 @LockheedMartin C-130J airlifters, plus equipment, trinaing and support for $1.4 billion. Interestingly, @NZAirForce rejected C-130J in 2002, at that time preferring instead to upgrade C-130Hs and buy 757s. Story to come… pic.twitter.com/fx25UJklDQ
— Gareth Jennings (@GarethJennings3) November 21, 2019
Due to their age, the need to replace the legacy C-130Hs figured into New Zealand’s recent Defense Capability Plan documents (2016 and 2019) and Strategic Defense Policy Statement (2018). The Ministry of Defense released a Request for Information (RFI) in January 2016 seeking the replacement of the NZDF’s two Boeing 757-200s and five C-130Hs under the so-called Future Air Mobility Capability (FAMC) project. The timeline laid out in the 2019 Defense Capability Plan called for introduction into service of the new airlifters by 2023 and the C-130H fleet to be fully phased out of service by February 2024.
New Zealand announced its selection of the C-130J as its preferred replacement platform back in June after also examining proposals related to the Airbus A400M and Embraer KC-390.