First NZ C-130J Hercules takes to the skies

05/04/2024 News

After 18 months construction, New Zealand’s first Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules successfully took its first test flight over Georgia and Alabama, USA.


Watch New Zealand's first C-130J Hercules take a test flight (external link)(external link)

It is a significant milestone in the project to replace the New Zealand Defence Force’s existing Hercules fleet, which has been in operation since the 1960’s.

There will be five Hercules in the new fleet, which are on track to start arriving in New Zealand later this year.

The existing Hercules fleet has long been an essential first response option for the New Zealand Defence Force, whether deployed on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, on supply missions to Antarctica, or to conflict zones like Afghanistan and East Timor.

Recent have included deployments include the transport of urgent medical equipment, vehicles and rescue personnel to Hawkes Bay after Cyclone Gabrielle, as well as surplus military equipment and 50 NZDF personnel to Europe to support Ukraine.

“The new C-130J Hercules has significant enhanced operational capabilities and ensures the Defence Force will be well-equipped with a modern, safe, powerful and fit-for-purpose airlift capability,” said Sarah Minson, Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery at the Ministry of Defence.

The second Hercules is not far behind the first on the Lockheed Martin factory floor, and will undergo its first test flight once it emerges from the paint shop.

The new fleet is being procured as part of a Military Foreign Sales process worth $1.521 million.

The joint project team working to bring the aircraft home is made up of Ministry of Defence staff and New Zealand Defence Force personnel.

Construction of a life-sized flight simulator is also on track for delivery to RNZAF Base Auckland in 2025. The building that will house it is well underway, with roof construction nearing completion.


C-130J Specifications:

Wing span: 40.41m

Height: 11.85m

Length: 34.4m

Speed: 330kts

Payload: 21 tonnes

Passengers: 128