New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark has revealed the intricate details of the country’s updated Defence Capability Plan 2019, including the highest priority project within the Coalition government’s plan.
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Minister Mark announced the selection of the C-130J Super Hercules as New Zealand's preferred option for the replacement of their five "ageing" C-130H aircraft as the country's highest priority project.
“The current Hercules have served us well since the 1960s, but they have reached the end of the road, and suitable and proven replacement aircraft will need to be sourced,” said Minister Mark.
“The current fleet is increasing in cost to maintain, and is taking longer to put through maintenance.
“After considering the range of military air transport aircraft carefully, the Super Hercules has been selected as it offers the necessary range and payload capability as well as fully meeting NZDF’s requirements.”
Minister Mark also provided a project timeline for the country's acquisition of four P-8A Poseidon aircraft, a decision that was made in 2018 by the New Zealand government.
“Last year the Coalition government decided to buy four P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The P-8s are a once in a generation purchase, and will ensure that the Air Force’s crucial maritime patrol capability is maintained for decades to come,” Minister Mark said.
“The project is on schedule to replace the P-3K2 Orion fleet from 2023, and I am pleased to announce further details today, with the release of a project timeline.”
New Zealand expects the first stages of procurement to begin in October this year, before reaching final operating capability in 2025.