The Israeli air force is close to approving an extensive upgrade to its 23 Lockheed Martin C-130E/H Hercules tactical transports, as the USmanufacturer tries to persuade the service to forego the roughly $350 million effort in favour of ordering new C-130Js.

Israel has had a long interest in the latest version of the C-130 design, but believes an upgrade to its current fleet is the best solution, says Brig Gen Zeev Snir, head of the air force's material directorate. Noting that the cost of maintaining the aircraft has become a "heavy burden", Snir says the service is "evaluating the cost of a deep upgrade that will include the airframe and avionics". Industry sources in Israel suggest that this could cost around $15 million for each aircraft.

"We have represented the long-term benefits of buying the C-130J in terms of reliability and reduced life-cycle costs against an upgrade to Israel's current aircraft," says a Lockheed Martin official.

Source: Flight International