Government eyeing replacements for old Hercules aircraft

C-130 Hercules Defence Force plane.
C-130 Hercules Defence Force plane. Photo credit: Ministry of Defence

The Government has revealed its preferred replacements for New Zealand's five ageing C-130 Hercules Defence Force planes.

New C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft have been earmarked as the high priority project within the Government's 2019 defence spending plan. 

Cabinet will seek detailed costing information for the new aircraft which are manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The 2019 spending plan estimated the cost would be more than $1 billion to replace the aircraft. 

Defence Minister Ron Mark said in a statement on Tuesday the new aircraft have been selected as they meet the New Zealand Defence Force's requirements.

"Tactical air transport capability is one of the highest value assets available to New Zealand, offering huge utility to the community and nation, enabling movement of personnel and cargo around the country, the South Pacific, down to Antarctica and all around the globe.

"We need a proven performer, and this aircraft is tried and tested. We cannot take risks with what is one of our most critical military capabilities."

More than 400 C-130J-30 Super Hercules have been delivered to over 21 nations, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Newshub previously revealed last year that, at any one time, more than half of the old Hercules fleet are grounded due to repairs.

No final contract decision has been made, on either platform numbers, detailed costs, or funding and Budget implications. 

A business case for the new aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to Cabinet next year, where these matters will be considered.