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Future Air Mobility Capability

The Future Air Mobility Capability project will ensure that the NZDF maintains a continuous, capable, and relevant fixed wing air mobility capability beyond the retirement of the current C-130H(NZ) and B757-200 aircraft.

The first phase is replacement of the C-130H with the C-130J-30 Hercules. Phase two will consider options for replacing the two Boeing 757 aircraft operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Government approval

  • In July 2017 the Government approved the Future Air Mobility Capability project to identify options for an effective and flexible air transport capability that can support military and all of Government operations.
  • In June 2019 Government directed that the first air mobility priority was to replace the C-130H aircraft fleet. The Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules was identified as a mature and proven tactical air mobility. The Secretary of Defence was authorised to undertake a formal process of a Foreign Military Sales Letter of Request for a Letter of Offer and cceptance for the procurement of Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 tactical aircraft, a simulator and associated services and support; together with further information about reliability, availability and maintenance requirements.
    The replacement of the Boeing 757-200 combi aircraft fleet would be the subject of analysis at an appropriate time (work is expected to be initiated in 2021).
  • In June 2020 the Government approved NZ$1.521 billion that will deliver the aircraft, training and support equipment, simulator, infrastructure for the simulator that will be located at RNZAF Base Auckland (Whenuapai), civilian satellite communications, electro-optical/infra-red camera, large aircraft infra-red countermeasures and sustainment.

Current status

On 5 June 2020 the Government announced that a fleet of five C-130J-30 would replace the current fleet of C-130H Hercules operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force for tactical airlift operations. The C-130J had been selected as the preferred platform in 2019, and the aircraft and a full mission flight simulator are being acquired through the United States' Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2024, with all five aircraft in country by mid-2025.

Over the 2022/23 year, construction of the first aircraft commenced and progressed to schedule, with the aircraft nose and fuselage joined in 2023. Personnel training commenced in the United States, and site infrastructure work commenced at RNZAF Base Auckland for the flight simulator, following a Request for Proposals process. 

Read more about the simulator here(external link)

Contact: Andrew Rooney, Integrated Project Team Leader

Updated: October 2023