With its first new-generation Lockheed Martin C-130J scheduled for delivery in early 2014, the Israeli air force has embarked on a comprehensive upgrade and phase-out programme for its current fleet of Hercules tactical transports.
Israel has ordered three C-130Js so far, and plans to extend the service lives of its legacy H-model transports until funding become available to purchase more. The nation's air force intends to eventually acquire at least six more C-130Js, with its examples to gain special features to meet Israel's operational needs.
A programme to modify some of the current aircraft will begin soon, with Israel Aerospace Industries' Bedek division to install replacement main wing boxes on part of the fleet. A source close to the programme said that some of the air force's upgraded C-130E/Hs will remain in service, while some other E-model transports will be phased out.
Israeli air force C-130H
Israeli technicians will begin to learn the maintenance manuals of the C-130J in 2013, with required infrastructure changes to be made at Nevatim air base to accommodate the type.
Flightglobal's MiliCAS database records the Israeli air force as operating 11 C-130E/Hs, plus five KC-130H in-flight refuelling aircraft.