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RNZAF C-130J's taking shape

May 12, 2023 (by Asif Shamim) - A key C-130J 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.

RNZAF C-130J #5978 the first New Zealand airframe seen on the production line on April 3, 2023. [Lockheed Martin Photo by David L. Key]

Five C-130J 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 to 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 of 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.

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

Courtesy of New Zealand Ministry of Defence

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