The Israeli air force sees the new Lockheed Martin C-130Js it is about to get next year as part of its “long arm”.
The target now is to make the new aircraft fully operational a short time after they are delivered.
To be ready to operate these advanced transport aircraft immediately after they land in Israel, the air force performed a joint drill with US air force’s C-130Js that flew to Israel from Germany earlier this month.
The C-130Js arrived at Israel’s Nevatim Airbase as part of a joint exercise designed to familiarise pilots with the aircraft.
The C-130Js joined the Israeli air force’s Hercules C-130 aircraft, flying together over the Negev desert, conducting navigation missions, landing and parachuting – allowing the Israeli pilots to observe the capabilities of the newer model.
The exercise was carried out with Squadron 37 of the US air force, which is based at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
“This squadron is active in Afghanistan and in Africa as well,” noted Lt Col Yinon, commander of the Elephants Squadron, which is expected to receive the new C-130Js.
Yinon said that the exercise exemplified the Israeli air force’s goal of strengthening international co-operation, with the intention of learning from other air forces.
Earlier this year, I reported that the Israeli force had begun talks with Lockheed Martin about the possible purchase of another three C-130Js.
The first contract, signed in 2010, includes three C-130Js, but the air force said that it needs more. It has asked for a formal proposal for three additional aircraft.
The delivery of the first C-130J included in the first deal is expected next year.
The cockpits of the air force’s C-130Js will have three seats, similar to the configuration used by US special forces.
The aircraft will be modified for the future installation of some Israeli systems.
The Israeli air force is operating 18 C-130E/Hs. In recent years all the fleet underwent fatigue tests with the assistance of Lockheed Martin. The C-130Es will be phased out while the C-130Hs will have structural treatment.