Israeli Army to Get Most Advanced Transport Planes Ever

When they arrive in two weeks, the 'Samson' planes will form a squadron giving the Air Force new capabilities.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

The first of three military transport aircraft will land in Israel in early April, immediately becoming the most advanced such plane ever controlled by the Israel Defense Forces.

The two other two planes will arrive in early June. The three planes — Lockheed Martin C-130J "Super" Hercules, known in Israel simply as "Samsons" — will give the IDF the ability to carry out special assignments and fly at low altitude with transport planes.

They will make up the Elephants Squadron, which is to be reconstituted starting as soon as the first plane lands. The Elephants Squadron was temporarily shut down in August, and its crew was transferred to a similar squadron on the Nevatim Airbase.

Col. Uri will command the squadron and be in charge of rebuilding it. Uri headed the crew that established the Elephants Squadron at the Little Rock United States Air Force Base in Arizona. Air crews are still training for the squadron there, with flight simulations, C130J flights and ground training. Technical crews for the aircraft will also train in the U.S.

The IDF's reception of the aircraft will be "an accelerated absorption process," according to a military source. Air Force officials are sending the H-series Hercules aircraft for upgrades, so they are eager to integrate the Samson planes into operational activity as soon as possible. The H-series planes will get new radar systems and have their wings strengthened. They will then form another squadron that will be used for refueling.

A Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, the predecessor of the Super Hercules.Credit: Bloomberg