Big ticket defence decision looms for new government

The new government is going to have find some cash for spending on replacing the clapped out Hercules transport fleet:

An early job for the new government will be to make a call on what it wants from a replacement to New Zealand’s ageing fleet of Hercules aircraft.

The 52-year-old aircraft are nearing the end of their operational life and although manufacturer Lockheed Martin says it is currently doing work for the New Zealand Defence Force on how many flying hours the five planes have left, the need for new planes is getting more pressing.

A detailed business case prepared by defence officials was due to go to Cabinet before the end of the year and the influence of New Zealand First deputy leader and defence spokesman Ron Mark could be pivotal in the next major acquisition project.

He has been a strident critic of much of the country’s recent procurement of defence hardware.

Lockheed Martin is competing against military airlift newcomers Embraer from Brazil and Kawasaki from Japan, which are offering similar-sized planes that are powered by jet engines.

That means they are faster than the Hercules, although they are so far unproven in operation.

The Herald has some comparisons but one thing they haven’t compared is unit pricing of the various options.

Hercules C130J – International fly away pricing  – US$100–167 million (the USAF gets these planes for around US$67 million)

Embraer KC-390 – US$85 million

Airbus A400M – €152.4m or around US$180 million

Kawasaki C-2 – US$136 million

There is a big price differential and it will be interesting to see how much of a haircut we could give Lockheed Martin to match the Embraer costs. I’d say the Airbus option is out of the question due to cost…but again it depends on how much of a hair cut we can give them.


-NZ Herald



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