New C-130-Js taking shape

12/05/2023 News

A key C-130-J project milestone was celebrated this week, as representatives from New Zealand, Defence personnel and Lockheed Martin senior staff gathered for a bulkhead signing ceremony at the factory in Marietta Georgia, USA.

Five C-130-J have been purchased for the Royal New Zealand Air Force to replace the current C-130 Hercules. The new aircraft are on track for delivery next year.

“The C-130J-30 is a significant investment in strategic airlift capability that delivers domestically and globally. This aircraft is likely be the first response option for missions in our region or further afield supporting both the NZDF and other Government agencies,” says Sarah Minson, Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery at the Ministry.

“While we are a South Pacific nation, our ability to be part of the region, requires a capability that can get people and equipment to where they need to be, often over long distances, and always at short notice. Since 1965, the C-130H has given us this capability, and it has been used extensively. The C-130J will continue that legacy of service.”

The bulkhead signing ceremony on 11 May (US time) signified significant progress and the formal commencement of New Zealand’s new C-130 fleet through production. Attendees were able to tour the factory floor and see the aircraft take shape as components of the fuselage were bought together.

About the C-130-J-30

Five new aircraft will begin arriving in Aotearoa in 2024, with the full fleet operating from 2025.

The C-130J-30 has more capacity than its predecessor due to its additional 5.4m in length and a payload capacity of 21 tonnes.

With a 15 tonne payload, the new aircraft will be able to travel 2400 nautical miles, compared to the current 1800nm.

The aircraft will also be fitted with additional specialist equipment, making it among the most capable in the world. Each will be fitted with a wide bandwidth, high speed satellite communications system and an electro-optical/infra-red camera. Imagery, video and data can be streamed in real-time and the camera allows for aerial surveillance including while undertaking transport tasks – particularly useful during search and rescue, and humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

The aircraft are being procured through the United States’ Foreign Military Sales process. Along with the new fleet, the $1.5 billion project will also deliver a full mission flight simulator and other supporting infrastructure.

C-130J-30 Specifications

Wing span: 40.41m

Height: 11.85m

Length: 34.4m

Speed: 330kts

Payload: 21 tonnes

Passengers: 128


Gallery photograph captions 

Air Commodore Ian Mower Deputy Chief of Air Force and Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery Sarah Minson visit the production line

Presenting the model to Sarah Minson is Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics

Leading the factory tour is Kevin Mather, director of Production Operations, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics

A C-130-J on the production line in April 2023

Photographer: Damien A. Guarnieri, Lockheed Martin