LRAFB hosts Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130J upgrade training

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cullen Drenkhahn
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark.—Team Little Rock recently received 16 maintenance members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) who have commenced training at Little Rock Air Force Base in preparation for the arrival of five new C-130J-30 Hercules in 2024.

The New Zealand Defence Force has successfully operated a fleet of five C-130H Hercules since the 1960s. The incoming C-130Js, hot off the production line, will serve to replace the aging fleet in its tactical airlift role.

Last week maintainers from the RNZAF attended an in-processing brief integrating them into the 714th Training Squadron where they will begin their training before working directly with the 19th Airlift Wing.

The kickoff of the maintenance training represents a significant milestone in the New Zealand Ministry of Defence’s Future Air Mobility Capability program and marks the beginning of a three-year period of further building joint readiness between allies.

“The support the NZ trainees have received from the USAF at Little Rock has been superb allowing a much smoother transition for the trainees and their families settling into life on base,” said Wing Commander Wayne Morris, New Zealand Foreign Liaison Officer. “The trainees are really looking forward to learning and working alongside the USAF.”

Later this year, six crews of RNZAF pilots and loadmasters will also conduct training at LRAFB. The contingent, along with their families, will form a significant Kiwi presence within the base and local community. The posted personnel are being supported by a New Zealand Ministry of Defence Integrated Project Team as part of the overall program.

As the home of “Herk Nation”, LRAFB offers the ability for maintenance and aircrew to train and experience all facets of C-130J operations. The training will be instrumental for the successful introduction of the C-130J into service within the RNZAF.

Col. Angela Ochoa, 19th Airlift Wing commander, had the chance to host a meet and greet with three members of the New Zealand Ministry of Defence where they discussed the future of the training as well as details on how the integration was going.

“New Zealand has been a long-standing ally and friend of the United States, and we at LRAFB are honored to host and work hand-in-hand with their personnel,” Ochoa said. “I am looking forward to us learning from each other in the days ahead and strengthening the bonds between our two nations.”

The Kiwis and future honorary Arkansans will spend the next three years building upon an already strong relationship through combined international training and operations and will further build joint readiness between allies.