22 September 2016

Renewing RNZAF’s Fixed-Wing Fleet

22 September 2016

Responses to two New Zealand RfIs for both transport and maritime patrol aircraft are due on 30 September. (photo : Shephard)

The Future Air Mobility Capability (FAMC) requirement is seeking a ‘no less than…equivalent’ replacement capability for five Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules and two Boeing 757-200 transport aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

At the same time, the Future Air Surveillance Capability (FASC) will replace six in-service P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

The separate RfIs are interested in any ‘potential synergies between these two projects that would optimise platform operation, training and through-life logistics support’.

The RNZAF wants strategic and tactical airlift that may combine a mix of up to two different aircraft types. First delivery of the Hercules replacement is required by February 2020, with full operational capability to be achieved no later than 2024.

There is a later schedule for the 757s, with the first replacement to arrive by February 2025, so that an initial operational capability can be reached within 12 months.

The chosen platforms must have a proven capability, and be capable of all-weather flying, integration with C4I capabilities and a well-defined upgrade path. The ability to fly to Ross Dependency in Antarctica, some 4,000km away, is listed.

There are limited numbers of contenders for the FAMC. With the Boeing C-17A out of production and the likelihood of obtaining second-hand examples slim, this leaves the Airbus A400M and C295, the C-130J Super Hercules, Kawasaki C-2, Alenia C-27J Spartan and Embraer KC-390 as possible contenders.

Turning to the FASC, the RfI states the operational concept ‘will be largely a continuation of the extant P-3K2 Orion-based concept, adapted to exploit any greater platform and capability systems performance of the FASC fleet and support systems’.

The RfI stated that ‘preferably greater’ than the current rate of effort, 2,500-3,200 flight hours per year, should be achieved by the FASC solution.

The mission sets for the FASC include: surveillance and reconnaissance, search and rescue, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, precision strike, and command, control and communications. 

Respondents are invited to propose system of systems solutions that might incorporate manned, remotely piloted and space-based platforms.

The Orions have already undergone a life extension upgrade to replace their sensors and mission management equipment, but they are due to be retired in the mid-2020s.

Under the current Underwater Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (UWISR) project, a $26.3 million contract with Boeing was announced on 24 August. UWISR will add submarine detection systems to all six Orions.


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