Aerial refuelling has become one of the top priorities of the Israeli air force, and in recent months various tests have been carried out to help provide longer-range operations for helicopters and heavy transport aircraft.

The IAF has recently performed a refuelling test of one of its new Lockheed Martin C-130J Samsons using one of the force’s Boeing 707 aerial tankers.

“The C-130J-30 is longer than our older C-130s, and we had to check our capability to air refuel a longer aircraft,” Lt Col Ori, chief test engineer of the IAF's flight test centre, told FlightGlobal.

Ori says it is the first time that the C-130J-30 was refuelled by a 707 tanker: “We checked the best procedure for such a manoeuvre, and the effect of the special systems that had been installed on our Samsons.”

The flight test centre has also completed the operational tests of the tailored systems that were installed on the IAF’s C-130J.

C-130 - Israeli air force

Israeli air force

Most of these systems have been developed in Israel and are aimed at allowing the Samson to operate within the Israeli defence force’s depth command.

Delivery of additional C-130J-30s will continue this year with more orders expected.

In another test, the C-130J refuelled a Sikorsky CH-53. The test aimed to evaluate the effect of the turbulence created by the longer C-130J on the aerial refueling procedure.

Meanwhile, the first flight of an Elbit Systems-upgraded Israeli C-130H carrying the full complement of enhanced capabilities has recently been carried out, the company says. The initial flight test was the first in a series of, with more to follow in the coming months.

During the trials, the aircraft’s system performance was tested at different altitudes and in various conditions, during the day and at night. The modernisation effort began in 2012 and extends the operational life of the aircraft, particularly in precision flying, low-level night flight and operations in adverse weather, Elbit says. In addition, the upgraded C-130s have been fitted with a new radar.

According to the IAF, the upgraded C-130Hs are scheduled to fly at least until 2040, and will operate alongside the new C-130Js.