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NZ officials attend signing ceremony at Super Hercules factory

Air Commodore Ian Mower Deputy Chief of Air Force and Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery Sarah Minson visit the production line. Photographer: Damien A. Guarnieri, Lockheed Martin.

New Zealand officials have toured Lockheed Martin’s factory in Marietta, Georgia as the country purchases five C-130-J Super Hercules military transport aircraft for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

New Zealand officials have toured Lockheed Martin’s factory in Marietta, Georgia as the country purchases five C-130-J Super Hercules military transport aircraft for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The new four-engine turboprop aircraft are expected to replace C-130 Hercules currently in service with the RNZAF, with delivery scheduled for Aotearoa in 2024 and full fleet operating from 2025.

The new aircraft, a full mission flight simulator and other supporting infrastructure are part of a $1.5 billion United States Foreign Military Sales project.

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NZ representatives, Defence personnel, and Lockheed Martin senior staff attended the bulkhead signing ceremony in the US on 11 May.

Deputy Secretary, Capability Delivery at the Ministry of Defence, Sarah Minson said the ceremony is a formal commencement of New Zealand’s new C-130 fleet through production.

“The C-130J-30 is a significant investment in strategic airlift capability that delivers domestically and globally,” she said.

“This aircraft is likely be the first response option for missions in our region or further afield supporting both the NZDF and other government agencies.

“While we are a South Pacific nation, our ability to be part of the region requires a capability that can get people and equipment to where they need to be, often over long distances, and always at short notice.

“Since 1965, the C-130H has given us this capability, and it has been used extensively. The C-130J will continue that legacy of service.”

Attendees were able to tour the factory floor and see how aircraft components of the fuselage were brought together.

The C-130J-30 measures an additional 5.4 metres in length, top speed of 330 knots, and a payload capacity of 21 tonnes, compared to the smaller C-130 Hercules already in service. With a 15-tonne payload, the new aircraft will be able to travel 2,400 nautical miles, compared to the current 1,800 nautical miles.

The new aircraft are also fitted with a wide bandwidth, high speed satellite communications system, and an electro-optical/infra-red camera.

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