The Royal New Zealand Air Force is one step closer to modernising its fleet after the United States State Department recently approved the sale of five new C-130J Hercules aircraft to New Zealand.
Arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin, in Fort Worth, Texas, will provide the aircraft, but as a "foreign military sale" it required US government approval.
The planned acquisition of the modern transport aircraft is among the most urgent in the Coalition Government’s planned defence spending. These planes airlift passengers and cargo in support of combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, across the Pacific, Antarctica and in the Middle East.
The planes were then bought from Boeing for NZ$2.3b, and they will be delivered and in the air by 2023. This included other infrastructure costs for facilities in New Zealand.
Defence Minister Ron Mark noted that the price of the potential purchase of the five planes also included full training and other packages and "will include a generic allowance for risk, project management and escalation".
"For these reasons, the price in this notification should not be viewed as the final contract price,” the Minister said.
The current fleet of Hercules planes was bought by New Zealand in the 1960s, hence a much-needed modernisation of the vital fleet is welcome.