Only two years have passed since it landed in Nevatim AFB and it has already taken part in operational and humanitarian missions all around the world. The „Shimshon” (C-130J Super Hercules) is proving its worth in the tactical transport division of the IAF
„I remember seeing the aircraft which were supposed to escort us in the ceremonial ‘flyover' for the arrival of the 'Shimshon' in Israel, it was the first 'handshake' the aircraft received from Israel”, recalls Lt. Col. Uri, who was the Head of the „Shimshon” Establishment Team in the „Elephants” Squadron. „The understanding that you are the one bringing a significant platform to the IAF and IDF is very exciting. I felt the weight of the responsibility. We were responsible for an expensive resource and we were expected to achieve great things with it”.
In a mere two years, the „Shimshon” managed to prove that it is necessary, operational and of high quality in a number of significant events, operational and humanitarian. It landed in Nevatim AFB in early April 2014, following months of preparation carried out by the establishment team in the U.S and in Israel. The aircraft, which is a new and improved version of the „Karnaf” (C-130 Hercules) brought innovation and advanced technology to the IAF. The aircraft is fitted with the newest and most advanced tactical transport aircraft systems in the world. It is a modern aircraft, computerized and fitted with advanced avionics systems which allow the aircrew to pilot it easily and comfortably. The aircraft holds many operational advantages such as a large cargo compartment, accurate flight, low radar signature, survivability and quality execution of assistance missions for ground forces, like equipment dropping and transportation of forces.
The First to Execute Humanitarian Missions
The first operational mission the „Shimshon” was the deployment to Kathmandu, Nepal, on April 25 ,2015. Three days after the disastrous earthquake, two „Shimshon” aircraft took off for Kathmandu, loaded with 9 tons of equipment and about 80 mission members. „At that moment, I decided to fly all of the squadron’s combatants, aircrew members and loadmasters, I imagined what an interesting and significant mission it was going to be, as the aircraft’s first operational mission”, shared Lt. Col. Uri. „The flight to Nepal gave us perspective on the process we underwent. We felt on top of the world, we were on the other side of the world, we executed the mission and came back home”.
A month ago, the terror attack in the heart of Istanbul took place, in which three Israeli citizens were killed and over 11 were injured. The day after the attack, a „Shimshon” took off for Istanbul in order to transport the injured individuals and the coffins of the deceased back to Israel, with personnel from 669 SAR Unit and Home Front Command representatives. „We flew fast in order to arrive as quickly as possible”, shared Lt. Col. Yoav, the „Elephants” Squadron commander and the aircraft’s captain. „After landing in Istanbul, we changed the cargo compartment’s configuration very quickly in order to accommodate the injured and coffins. We were deployed to a mission with much uncertainty, we didn’t know what would be required form us. But, regretfully, we have a lot of experience in organizing humanitarian aid missions. It is a great privilege to lead such an event, it fills me with pride, events like this are what we are here for”.
2016 is a significant year for the „Elephants” Squadron: in the summer the squadron will undergo a special abilities inspection and receive more „Shimshon” aircraft, which will be fitted with special systems before their arrival.
Author: Talya Yariv | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida