The eventual retirement of the RNZAF’s C-130Hs will see Airbus Military pitch the A400M and newly-launched C295W to the New Zealand government.
Announced at its annual briefing to trade media, Airbus Military said while it views New Zealand as a longer-term proposition, it is confident the two aircraft could fill the gap to be left by the ultimate retirement of the RNZAF’s five C-130Hs and indeed enhance the nation’s airlift capabilities.
Airbus Military was upbeat about the potential its new products could offer, and will embark on initial discussions within an undisclosed period, believed to be in the nearer-term to seed the products as potential candidates.
One observer at the briefing noted the C295 could also provide a pragmatic solution to New Zealand’s future maritime patrol needs when the Orions fall due for replacement. Airbus Military is offering the C295W as both a tactical airlifter and maritime patrol aircraft.
The last of the RNZAF C-130Hs to undergo a 15-year life-extension was re-delivered only in February this year, five years later than expected, under a program that was originally approved in 2003.
Airbus Military’s advance campaigning comes as it readies to launch the A400M into service in the coming weeks. The manufacturer’s head of programs, Rafael Tentor, who was A400M project head, said it had been “a long and winding road” to get to this point of delivery, but the A400M was “now the right aircraft at the right time”.