New Zealand military to buy 5 Lockheed Super Hercules planes

New Zealand's military announced Tuesday it will buy five new Super Hercules planes to replace its 50-year-old fleet of Hercules.

Defense Minister Ron Mark said the estimated cost of the Lockheed Martin aircraft was more than 1 billion New Zealand dollars ($661 million), although a price hasn't yet been finalized.

He said the military would buy the stretch version of the plane, the C-130J-30 Super Hercules. Lockheed describes the planes as workhorses that are capable of landing on austere runways almost destroyed by natural disasters.

The announcement came as part of a broader 11-year military investment plan of NZ$20 billion that includes spending on new vessels and maritime surveillance. Mark said the investments are primarily humanitarian in nature, designed to provide assistance and security to New Zealand's Pacific neighbors.

New Zealand's air force currently operates five C-130 Hercules planes, three of which it took delivery of in 1965 and two in 1969. The planes have been upgraded several times since then.