C-130 Hercules to depart Auckland for Afghan mission

Source: 1News

A C-130 Hercules aircraft will be departing from the Air Force base in Auckland to help with evacuations of Kiwis and others in Afghanistan. 

Military cargo plane in flight. C-130.

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare said the New Zealand Defence Force Thursday morning deployed personnel on the aircraft. 

Up to 80 personnel are now expected to be deployed because of the developing situation in Afghanistan

“At this stage, the NZDF is preparing to deploy for up to a month. The contingent will include air crew and maintenance staff, a medical team, operational support staff, logistics personnel and force protection, among others,” Henare said. 

“New Zealand has had a long-standing relationship with the people of Afghanistan, particularly in Bamyan Province. 

“Because of this, we are joining our partners in assisting with the evacuation of those who are in the greatest danger.” 

Henare said New Zealand may help evacuate some foreign nationals, and other allies could also be carrying Kiwis home on their aircrafts. 

Cabinet has given an exemption for the C-130 Hercules flight in Alert Level 4. 

All personnel have been vaccinated, and there will be protections in place throughout the mission, including the use of PPE.

“The safety of our people is of the utmost importance during this unfolding situation,” Henare said.

It comes as Australia’s Afghan rescue mission got underway on Wednesday, with an RAAF C-130 Hercules flight reportedly in Kabul. 

On Tuesday, Australia’s Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the Australian Defence Force will help evacuate New Zealanders in Afghanistan , but only when it's safe.

As of Tuesday, the New Zealand Government estimated about 200 Kiwis and other Afghans eligible to get help from New Zealand were trapped in Afghanistan.