IAF 'Hercules' units arrived at a U.S airbase in order to get a closer look at the 'Hercules J', the future cargo aircraft of the IAF. Aside from its significant technological advantages, you have to know how to deal with a smaller cockpit, train new aerial team members and get used to a whole other system of aircraft.
The F-35 is getting a lot of media attention, but it is not the only new purchase that the IAF is destined to receive in the upcoming years. In 2013, the new Hercules is meant to land in Israel, and be named „Shimshon” – leading the Cargo formation toward the future.
In the beginning of the month, representatives of the Hercules formation–technicians, loading inspectors and aerial teams-flew to Ramstein, Germany, the largest American base outside of the United States borders, in order to get a closer look at the new Hercules and continue the preparation process for its arrival in Israel.
Hercules units joined a brief flight in which the abilities of the airplane were demonstrated. The unit members reported being very impressed with the large size of the Hercules J, its aviation advantages and the various technologies it encompassed. „It’s amazing”, said Lieutenant Colonel Eran, Commander of the Loading unit that joined the delegation. „We have been using aircraft that was manufactured in the 70’s–this will lead us into a new, advanced future”.
The American formation that the delegation visited was once called Hercules H and was changed into Hercules J–the same process that the IAF will have to complete when the time comes. „The point was to get familiar with the 'Shimshon' that will arrive in Israel”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Eran. „We wanted to understand the transition process that the Americans have begun, for pilots, inspectors, and navigators”.
What will happen with Hercules Pilots and Flight Engineers?
As expected with technological advancement, the way is paved with challenges. When the Hercules J will arrive in Israel, the IAF will have to transition into a two seat cockpit only since the Hercules J has no flight engineer. In the U.S Military, for example, the problem was solved by stating that the loading inspector will complete the flight engineer’s job as well. As of yet, the IAF hasn’t decided on a clear solution, and it seems as though IAF navigators will perform the flight engineer’s role.
Pilots will also face a significant change. In the IAF, it is clear that as in the U.S Air Force, Hercules pilots will be accustomed to one version of the Hercules, and will not maneuver between the old and new airplanes.
If you ask for Lieutenant Colonel Eran’s opinion, loading inspectors' work will not be drastically altered, and an inspector that had flown on an Hercules J airplane in the morning will be able to join a night flight in the Hercules H-a system that has not been adopted by the U.S Air Force. „For the inspectors, the Hercules J is identical to the Hercules H but only consists of extra gadgets”, states Lieutenant Colonel Eran. „The new airplane can consist of more equipment and holds more people, it is longer and its systems are more advanced, any inspector who knows these details can manage the change”.