Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman Australia and the Italian aerospace company Leonardo announced a partnership to build and maintain troop carrier aircraft for New Zealand.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday to provide Leonardo's C-27J aircraft, and all services connected with the planes throughout their life cycles, to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
They will jointly bid on the Future Air Mobility Capability Program of the Air Force, and use their existing relationship to offer the C-27J to New Zealand as a replacement for its aging C-130H fleet.
The plane, formerly known as the Alenia C-27J Spartan, is a twin-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, equipped with engines and other systems also used on Lockheed Martin's C-130J Super Hercules.
It was used by the U.S. Air Force from 2007 through 2012, when it was retired because of budget cuts, and has been ordered by the military air units of 10 other countries.
The plane is designed for troop and materials transport, medical evacuation, paratroops and cargo loads airdrops, search and rescue, firefighting and support for civil emergency operations.