The Beginning of the Hercules C-130J era: yesterday, in a ceremony held at the American Lockheed Martin factories the IAF received the first Hercules C-130J airplane. The aircraft will remain in the company's manufacturing facilities so that the Israeli systems can be installed, and is due to arrive in Israel in the year of 2014. "Because of the different systems that will be incorporated in the aircraft, its capabilities will be more geared towards the IAF's needs", explained Lieutenant Colonel Uri, commander of the Hercules C-130J squadron establishing team.
Many important members participated in yesterday's ceremony; an IDF attaché stationed in the US, Major General Yaakov Aish, other IAF officials and representatives of the Jewish community alongside Lockheed Martin and the American Air Force representatives. "The transfer of the aircraft was symbolized by a golden key", said Lieutenant Colonel Uri, "it's in the exact place where the first Hercules airplanes manufactured for the IAF in 1971 was transferred. It's a very meaningful event".
The Hercules C-130J is an upgraded version of the Hercules C-130 which has served the IAF for over 40 years, and has participated in many missions. The new purchase will strengthen and advance the strategic arm of the IAF: The Hercules C-130J has advanced capabilities in comparison to the Hercules C-130 and it can transport a larger number of fighters, carry heavier loads and fly longer distances. Soon, aerial teams will fly to the USA in order to learn how to aviate the advanced plane, in preparation for the establishment of an entire squadron of Hercules C-130J aircrafts. "The first airplane is destined to arrive in the year of 2014- we can't wait!"