Israel Air Force to Receive 3 New, U.S.-funded Transport Planes

The Super Hercules planes, costing $75m. each, will supplement 3 existing craft in fleet. F-35 Stealth planes also due by year-end.

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A Super Hercules aircraft during a demonstration at a 2009 Paris air show.
A Super Hercules aircraft during a demonstration at a 2009 Paris air show.Credit: Bloomberg

The Israel Defense Forces will be receiving another three Super Hercules transport planes by the end of the year, supplementing the three aircraft it already has at its Nevatim airbase in the southern part of the country.

In 2014, Haaretz reported that the Israel Air Force had reached agreement to buy one additional Hercules and was considering buying three. The planes, which each cost $75 million and are dubbed Shimshon – Samson – in Hebrew, are being purchased by the Defense Ministry as part of the financial aid allocation provided to Israel by the Americans.

The new and improved Super Hercules is considered particularly well suited for special air force missions. It can carry heavier cargo than previous Hercules models and can fly at lower altitudes. Its can carry 128 passengers or four motor vehicles and, in a different configuration, can accommodate 92 parachutists or 97 stretchers.

The plane is due to serve the IAF on logistical missions involving transportation of equipment. After the first of the Super Hercules arrived in 2014, it was used by an Israeli military rescue mission in Nepal following the earthquake there; it was also deployed to evacuate casualties in a terrorist attack in Istanbul in March.

In December, two F-35 Stealth aircraft, to be called Adir in Hebrew, are also due to arrive here. Israel will take possession of another six of these planes next year.

At the end of June, a formal hand-over ceremony will be held at the Texas-based facilities of Lockheed Martin, manufacturer of the Stealth aircraft. It is expected that Israel’s new defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as well as officials from the IAF and the defense establishment, will be on hand.