Japanese Kawasaki C-2 airlifter makes flying visit

Bracketed by a C-130J tail and C-27J nose, the C-2 lands at Richmond on November 30. (Defence)

A Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Kawasaki C-2 airlifter has visited RAAF Bases Amberley and Richmond just weeks after the type made its international airshow in Dubai.

The twin-jet airlifter visited Australia en route to New Zealand, where the type is under consideration for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s future air mobility requirement to replace the service’s Lockheed C-130H Hercules and Boeing 757-200 transports.

The C-2 had made the type’s international debut at the Dubai Airshow earlier in November, with the United Arab Emirates also reportedly interested in the new GE CF6-powered transport.

The JASDF was due to take delivery of its fourth C-2 this month, out of an original requirement for 40 of the type. The largest aircraft yet built in Japan, the C-2 has been developed to replaced JASDF Kawasaki C-1s and C-130H Hercules.

The C-2 is considerably bigger than the venerable Hercules, with a 141,000kg maximum takeoff weight and the ability to carry a maximum payload of 36,000kg, both figures close to twice those of the C-130H (but much less than the C-17’s 265,000kg MTOW and 77,500kg payload). It has a 4,100nm range with a 20,000kg payload, and cruises at Mach 0.8.

Major Naoki Yamaji demonstrates features of the C-2’s flightdeck to GPCAPT Paul Long, Officer Commanding 84 Wing. (Defence)

The C-2 was not the first foreign military airlifter to transit Australia en route to New Zealand this year, with the RNZAF’s air mobility contest also attracting a visit by the Embraer KC-390 in July.

Japan has also offered the Kawasaki P-1 maritime surveillance aircraft for New Zealand’s parallel future air surveillance capability requirement.

C-2 68-1203 on approach to Amberley on November 26. (Lance Broad)

Below is footage of the C-2 departing Wellington on November 28.


  1. Tomcat Terry says

    Nice plane.
    Would be interesting to see more stats on it like dirt strip capability, runway length needed to takeoff with MTOW, inflight refuelling etc
    Could be a nice replacement option for the J’s.

  2. James says

    I was on the Flight line at Richmond yesterday and saw it take off close hand. Very quiet. Looks like a C17 from behind.

  3. PAUL says

    Impressive Japan built this capability on their own- the Herc replacement is an interesting matrix on what to buy?… didn’t know this was coming to NZ which is a poor heads up for Aviation enthusiasts. This stuff used to be in the news all the time years ago but now NZ media is quite boring in that respect. NZ Herald publishes these events but TVNZ never. No coverage of the A4ooM visit or KC390 or C17’s from OZ & US….

  4. Derrick says

    I’m waiting for Corey to make a comment on how many the RAAF needs…..

    But it’s such a great looking aircraft, be interested to see if NZ will go for both the P-1 and the C-2 as replacements for the P-3/c-130/757.

  5. Harry says

    Tomcat Terry – A replacement option for the Js!? If you mean Australia, why would we replace a tactical lift capability with a strategic one when we already have the C-17s? If you mean NZ, then its Hs, not Js, that are being replaced soonish

  6. Sam Fulton says

    Not sure the RNZAF will go with these but good on Japan for putting it out there, it looks impressive and a huge cargo hold for all types of freight and cargo. I had heard a rumour they were bringing one to Wellington but not a lot of press coverage on it. It will be either the A400, C-130J or KC-390 for the Herc replacement for the RNZAF. I can’t see the kiwis going with something made in Japan, interesting though that the UAE is in negotiations on buying the C-2.

  7. ABH says

    If it was supposedly only transiting Australia on its way to Enzed and has a 4,100nm range, why the need to go to RAAF bases Amberley AND Richmond? Curioser and curioser! Never let a chance go by?

  8. D W Bell says

    For NZ, this would be an excellent compromise, howerver if the Govt there is think of replacing 5 hercs and 2 757-200’s to allow for maintenance and “urgent” deployment, training etc, the govt5 would need to consider 6-8, but then what to use as a multi role airliner?, may be the Mitsubishi 100 seat airliner currnetly being tested. But then for NZ do they not want an aircraft that can do 10hrs point to point?

  9. Corey says

    Would be awesome to see this in our fleet or the KC-390, however, we all know we won’t since when we do replace the RAAF C-130Js it will be with the A400Ms. If Embraer put the new CMF LEAP engine in it I’m sure they might be able to swing more sales due to increased fuel burn and so on. Good on Japan for having a crack at it wish we had the same attitude here in Australia!

  10. Mick C says

    I wouldn’t put the C-2 or A400M in the same class as the C-17 as a Strategic Airlifter, 36-38t max load against 77t. The C-2 and A400M are both more Tactical Airlifters with a limited Strategic capability. The only one for one replacements for the Js are either new Js or KC-390s.
    I think the RAAF will go to a bigger Airlifter when they replace the Js. The Spartans are now in service and taking over many of the Tactical roles from the Hercs. Throw in that we now have 10 Chinooks in service and Tactical Airlift is looking good and the Herc is starting to look obsolete, by modern standards it is big, slow, lacks range and payload and for the 1st time in 60yrs there are genuine alternatives.
    Anyway a replacement program is still a decade away and will be an interesting project to follow.
    A Fleet of.
    8 C-17
    12 C-2/A400M
    10 C-27
    10 CH-47F
    offers great balance

  11. Sam Fulton says

    For the RNZAF it has to be a “like for like replacement” for Tactical Transport. That really only leaves the KC-390 or the C-130J. A400s are to pricey and they won’t be able to afford to buy 5 of them to replace the C-130Hs.

    The replacement for the 757’s could be 2-3 A400M or the C-2 but the C-2 seems unlikely. That’s my pick anyway.

  12. Martin says

    Mick writes of the C 130(J) that by modern standards it is big, slow, lacks range and payload. Prompted by that, I was curious how it stacked up against others being listed. In increasing order of payload as reported in Wikipedia pages:

    Type, Payload (t), MTOW (t), Range (NM), Speed (knots)
    CH-47F 10.9 22.7 400 170
    C-27J 11.5 30.5 950 315
    C130J 19.0 74.4 1800 362
    KC-390 26.0 81.0 1140 470
    C-2 36.0 141.4 2430 495

    Range for C130J is for payload of only 15.4 t, for the others, range is generally given at max payload.

    I realise range will reduce for C130J once payload is up at the full 19.0 t, but its performance seems to still be quite respectable. I imagine if we could obtain some reliable acquisition and operating costs for each of these aircraft, then the comparison would likely be even more favourable for the venerable Herc in its current guise?

    PS: Hope the above table doesn’t get all skewed once I post this.

  13. Sam Fulton says

    @ Martin, I am impressed with the KC-390 payload and range, surely as an aircraft replacement it has to be in the mix and the RNZAF must be thinking seriously about it. 26T compared to 19T for the C-130J is a big difference.

    I guess the only thing in favour for the C-130J is it is a proven platform and all the RNZAF allies use it, and it’s an easy transition from the “H” model Hercules.

    Surely the NZ MOD must be thinking that they need something in higher payload range and can carry an NH-90?

  14. PAUL says

    As the RNZAF has surely found out with the B757 its cheaper to maintain a modern twin turbofan transport than 1 with 4 Turboprops. (No more Prop filling! ) especially if they use the same engine that AirNZ has on its A320’s. So puts Aircraft like the C2 & KC390 in the running. Having seen the A400M up close & inside it’s my favourite but knowing an NZ Labour Govt they will probably go for low risk & cheap option which will be the C130J. which may not be future proofing…

  15. Harry says

    From those figures C-2 seems like a strategic lift platform, I wonder how it compares with A400 and C-17s

  16. Mick C says

    Martin you missed the A400M 37.0 141.0 2000nm(max pay load) 422kt.
    Its going to come down to what the RAAF wants at the time. The Herc is still a respectable Tac Airlifter but can not match it with the newer Aircraft in the Strategic role to back up the C-17s.
    I think this project is going to be one of the most intriguing projects on the books. From 1958 t0 1998 it was simple for the RAAF, need new Airlifters, you ring LM and order 12 of the latest model Hercs because there was no real alternatives that’s no longer the case.

  17. Sam Fulton says

    Lots of transport options now which is healthy and good for the RNZAF but reading in the papers Ron Mark the new Defence Minister seems to be set on the C-130J. Not sure it’s the way forward for the kiwis, they need something with a bigger payload.

    I worry about the new government in NZ as the Labour Party have a history of defence force purchase bungles, I see the $20 million extra that National had promised is now under review.

    My preferred option would also be the A400 but failing that the KC-390 seems to be a great buy and has very impressive specs. Not sure the C-130J is way forward and even now it looks like some of the air forces are starting to look at phasing out the Hercs for bigger and faster aircraft.

  18. Harry says

    Just some extra stats for the big Five medium-lift planes (according to a few online sources), not that they are used that much these days but…:

    C-130Js: 64 paratroopers
    KC 390: 64-66 paratroopers
    C-2 : 64 paratroopers
    A400M: 108-116 paratroopers
    C-17: 102 paratroopers

  19. Scotty says

    I think the only thing that will compromise c130j and c2 will be the following

    C2 has no rough field performance or capability

    c130j with its 6 blade props are vunerable to damage on rough surface unless thats been rectified.

    C2/P1 purchase gave nz the option of assisting in its manufacture and development. Labour Govt would like that

    Ron Mark will like c130j because he used to fly in c130h when he was a reserve officer.