This month, Nevatim Airbase received some special guests: American Hercules C-130J planes, which arrived for a special exercise with the C-130s, the older version of the plane in the IAF. The Hercules J planes in the Israeli version, "Shimshon", will only be received at the IAF in the year 2014, but the Israeli air crew members had the chance to familiarize themselves with the new planes.
"This visit is a part of international cooperation that the IAF prioritizes out of understanding that we should learn from other air forces", explains Lieutenant Colonel Yinon, Commander of the "Elephants" squadron. This time, the reciprocal learning will take place with Squadron 37 of the U.S Army, which is based permanently at Ramstein Base in Germany, the largest U.S base outside their borders. "This squadron is active in Afghanistan and in Africa as well", shares Lieutenant general Yinon. "We should take in these lessons that the Americans are learning from these arenas".
"In the near future, the formation will undergo tremendous changes"
As a part of the joint exercise, American planes joined Israeli Hercules C-130s and the group flew together over the Negev skies. At day and night, they conducted navigation missions, landing and parachuting, that allowed the Israeli pilots to observe the capabilities of the new plane. "The Hercules J encompasses extremely advanced flight systems, it is longer than the Hercules C-130 and is more fuel efficient", says Major Yuval, Deputy Commanders of the "Knights of the Yellow Bird" squadron. "The more we learn for other forces about the Hercules J before it arrives here, the better".
The squadron expected to receive the new planes is the "Elephants" squadron, which will reopen as a "Shimshon" squadron. That said, the veteran Hercules planes will not be abandoned: they are currently undergoing an improvement process that is meant to extend their service at the IAF. "The formation is going through a dramatic process", says Major Yuval, "in the near future it will undergo tremendous changes".