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Update: NZ C-130Js to get specialist equipment, advanced sensors

The five Lockheed Martin C-130J-30s Super Hercules to be built for New Zealand will have advanced ISTAR and communications systems. (Lockheed Martin Aeronautics)

The five Lockheed Martin C-130J-30s Super Hercules to be procured by New Zealand will have specialist equipment and sensors.

Janes has learned that the aircraft will be fitted with L3 WESCAM MX-20 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) cameras and a Honeywell JetWave Ka-band wide bandwidth, high-speed satellite communications (satcom) system.

The MX-20 system is designed for high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations. It has been deployed aboard long-range maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and GA-ASI MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Able to provide more than x400 magnification in the EO sensor and more than x75 magnification in the IR sensor, the MX-20 also uses Enhanced Local Area Processing (ELAP) to improve feature recognition.

Janes previously reported that the modular design of the system supports up to seven sensor payloads simultaneously. This comprises “a daylight CCD [charged-coupled device] camera with zoom lens, a colour [or monochrome] daylight camera with four-step spotter lens, a night camera with four-step spotter lens, a thermal imager with high magnification four-step zoom, a laser rangefinder, and two choices of laser illuminator/pointer”.

The satcom system supports up to 50 Mbps of speed via the fuselage-mounted antenna. The tail-mounted antenna is capable of speeds up to 30 Mbps.

“In addition to the above [two] specific systems, the NZ [New Zealand] variant will include the ability for video and images to be captured while the aircraft is in use,” the New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Janes .

This includes “the ability to live-stream footage back to civilian agencies during humanitarian and disaster relief and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions”, the MoD added.

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