RNZAF air mobility programme hits new milestones

The first of five Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft being built for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has taken its first flight from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, the service announced in early April.

The flight of the first aircraft, NZ7011, covered a distance of nearly 1,000 kilometres over a three-hour period, it added.

“The iconic C-130H has been a fantastic aircraft for us for a very long time, across a huge range of tasks and environments,” said Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Darryn Webb.

“The C-130J will deliver everything that its predecessor does, and more – it has greater range, speed and capacity,” AVM Webb explained, adding that the type will also enhance the RNZAF’s interoperability with its Australian counterpart.

The latest development comes as the RNZAF began to phase out its ageing C-130H aircraft, which first entered service in 1965, from February 2024.

The New Zealand government signed a US$1.5 billion deal for five new C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft in 2020 under the Future Air Mobility Capability (FAMC) programme. The contract also includes a dedicated full motion C-130J simulator, which the service believes will support around 80 percent of pilot training.

The initial tranche of RNZAF crews for the five C-130J aircraft are being trained at the US Air Force (USAF) Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

The training package includes the instruction of flying instructors and aircrew instructors whose expertise will be used to develop a local C-130J training system in New Zealand once the new aircraft have been delivered.

Besides improved avionics and engines, the RNZAF’s new C-130J aircraft also features the L3Harris Wescam MX-20 electro-optical sensor system.

by Jr Ng