Israel Air Force to Get More Super Hercules Airplanes

Dubbed Shimshon in Israel, transport aircraft can carry heavier loads, fly lower than predecessor.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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The welcome ceremony for Israel's first Super Hercules transport plane, April 9, 2014.
The welcome ceremony for Israel's first Super Hercules transport plane, April 9, 2014.Credit: Nehemiah Gershoni
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Air Force will receive additional Super Hercules transport aircraft following an agreement by the Israel Defense Forces to buy two more of the airplanes from U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin at an estimated $75 million each.

Air force officials are interested in buying nine aircraft, and negotiations regarding additional airplanes are currently under way, a senior air force officer said.

Two Super Hercules - the model has been dubbed Shimshon in Hebrew - already operate out of the Nevatim airbase, and two others are in production. Recently the air force reached an agreement for the purchase of another Super Hercules plane, bringing the number to six, but it is expected to be two and a half years before Lockheed finishes delivering the aircraft.

The air force is interested buying three more planes to bring up the number of Super Hercules to nine. The airplanes are being purchased with a portion of the U.S. government’s annual assistance to Israel.

The Shimshon is thought to be designated for the air force’s special operations. It can carry heavier loads than prior Hercules models and can fly at lower altitudes. "The range of tasks that it is used for goes to the edge of one’s imagination," Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said at the time of the arrival of the first aircraft in Israel, "near and far, at night and in weather, under every condition on a very wide range of tasks."

Last week the plane conducted a long-range flight over Romania, Bulgaria and Greece as part of training in advance of the operational use of the squadron. "The flight overseas enables us to interface with international traffic and land at unfamiliar air fields, [to contend] with the cold weather of Eastern Europe and high mountains on the way to landing," an air force captain identified as Roi told the air force website. Roi commands the navigator division of the squadron operating the Super Hercules airplanes.

"We know the reality that disaster can occur overseas, and we are required to provide help from the moment the squadron is operational," he added.

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