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Crucial step towards journey to the C-130J

The evolution of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)’s air fleet continues with the refresh of the fixed wing air mobility work horse, the C-130 Hercules based at RNZAF Base Auckland.

16 October, 2023

For the past 60 years the C-130H model has delivered tactical air mobility support around the globe.

The C-130J Transition Unit (JTU), headed by Wing Commander (WGCDR) Gareth “Case” Russell, will focus on ensuring the smooth introduction of the new C-130J Hercules, and said this much anticipated milestone was incredibly exciting.

“The C-130J is the next step in modernising our fleet and increasing our capability; it can fly further, faster and carry more passengers and cargo than we’ve been able to achieve before.

“Standing up a transition unit is essentially building a unit from the ground up. As military professionals we are practiced in regularly changing roles. Normally this involves moving into a position where the team around you knows their job inherently. In the case of a transition ‘pop-up’ unit, building foundational relationships, structures and culture is a unique challenge.”

WGCDR Russell is looking forward to the coming weeks and months when more personnel will come on-board to fill JTU’s critical functional needs. “There is flexibility to evolve the JTU as we need, to deliver our mission. The end state is that we will be absorbed into

No. 40 Squadron, which incorporates Boeing flight and Hercules flight as an integrated team,” WGCDR Russell said.

Speaking of integrated teams, WGCDR Russell wanted to recognise the years of work that have been done to get the Future Air Mobility Capability (FAMC) project to this point.

“The Integrated Project Team (IPT), past and present, has been outstanding in preparing the way for the delivery of trained personnel, aircraft and supporting systems for JTU to employ on the path to operational release.”

WGCDR Russell said the introduction of any new capability requires significant work, not least by the New Zealand personnel based overseas.

“We currently have maintenance, aircrew and support personnel training and working across several locations in the United States of America. The dedication of these aviators and their families is critical to mission success at the speed of relevance.

“The skill and professionalism of this team will ensure that the C-130J contribution to No. 40 Squadron continues to serve Aotearoa New Zealand, as it has done since 1964.”

Read more about the C-130J project here