In July 2008, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Israel’s request to buy up to 9 stretched C-130J-30 aircraft, which will replace some of the aging C-130 aircraft that Israel made famous in its 1976 commando raid at Entebbe, Uganda.
It took some time, but Israel finally became the 13th C-130J customer nation in April 2010. Appropriately, Israel’s new “Samson” planes will contain a number of features associated with the new special forces variants bought by India and the USA. The first plane landed in Israel in April 2014, but program of up to 9 planes looks like it will take a while to finish…
Contracts & Key Events
The new aircraft will increase paratrooper capacity from 64 – 92, hold 4 military SUVs instead of 3, and offer much more cargo load in lift-sapping hot weather. The 1st C-130J-30 Shimshon (Samson) arrived in Israel in April 2014, and will begin service with 103 squadron, “The Elephants”.
Unless otherwise noted, these contracts are issued to Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA. They use the Foreign Military Sales framework, which means that an arm of the US military serves as Israel’s agent and manages the contracts.
Full civil compatibility to modernized C-130Hs.
April 9/14: Arrival. Israel’s first C-130J-30 Super Hercules arrives at Nevatim Air Base, but the Israelis aren’t done with it. Some Israeli systems have already been installed on the production line in Georgia, but some will only be installed in Israel now that it has arrived. After that’s done, there will be more test flights at the Test Flight Center in Israel, which will happen at the same time as 103 Squadron’s aircrew training.
If purchases seem very slow and spread out, the IAF notes that it hasn’t been easy to get to this point:
“Against the backdrop of the defense budget cuts, the Hercules C-130J procurement deal became one of the largest, most complex and most challenging processes the IAF and the Ministry of Defense- the Budget Department in particular-have experienced in recent years.”
Sources: IAF, “The Future Is Here: The Hercules C-130J lands at Nevatim Airbase” | Lockheed Martin, ” First C-130J Super Hercules ‘Shimshon’ Arrives In Israel” | IAF, “The Secret Behind The Herculean Deal”.
1st Shimshon arrives
Jan 15/13: C-130H Modernization. Israel needs to modernize its C-130Hs while it waits for its C-130J-30s (q.v. Jan 27/12, Dec 19/12), and reports indicate an expected future service life of around 15 years (q.v. Aug 28/12). Given that time frame, it’s unsurprising that the Israelis are now spending $15 million to add modernized CNS/ATM avionics to the project, in order to allow their C-130H “Karnaf” planes to fly in international civil air space. Not only is that kind of capability useful in humanitarian scenarios, it has also been used for military operations like the famous commando rescue at Entebbe.
Elbit Systems Aerospace Division General Manager Yoram Shmuely sees a 3rd angle: industrial. In the face of a “growing demand” for this kind of compatibility, he adds that “further customers will require similar capabilities for their transport fleets.” Boeing already offers similar 3rd party upgrade services, and the large installed based of C-130s has made this field attractive to other firms around the world. Given the small additional investment involved, 1 subsequent foreign contract to Elbit for full C-130 upgrades probably justifies Israel’s expense. Sources: Elbit Systems, “Elbit Systems Awarded $15 Million Israel Defense Ministry Contract for Additional Capabilities to the Israeli Air Force’s C-130H Aircraft”.
2012 – 2013
Israel buys C-130J-30s #2-4, begins buying #5-6; C-130H modernization effort; 1st “Shimshon” (Samson) handed over in Georgia.
Dec 3/13: #4. Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA receives a not-to-exceed $81.2 million modification to an existing contract to fund Israeli C-130J-30 aircraft #4, advance long-lead procurement of C-130Js #5 and 6, and external fuel tank modification kits.
Work will be performed at Marietta, GA, and is expected to be completed by June 30/16. This contract is 100% foreign military sales for Israel, with the USAF Life Cycle Management Center/WLNNC at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH acting as Israel’s agent (FA8625-11-C-6597, PO 0231).
4th C-130J-30 bought
July 25/13: #4 begins. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta, GA receives a maximum $13 million unfinalized contract for the advanced procurement of a 4th Israeli C-130J-30 and field services representatives, out of an FMS case for up to 9 planes (q.v. July 30/08). The total cumulative face value of the contract it’s bought under is now $1.631 billion, but most of that contract doesn’t involve Israel.
Work will be performed at Marietta, GA, and is expected to be complete by Dec 30/15. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/WLNNC at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract as Israel’s FMS agent (FA8625-11-C-6597, PO 0172).
June 26/13: #1 ‘Delivery’. Israel’s 1st “Shimshon” aircraft is formally delivered during a ceremony at Marietta, GA, but it still has to receive its array of unique Israeli systems, followed by flight acceptance testing etc. Which is why it won’t arrive in Israel until Spring 2014. Lockheed Martin.
Feb 14/12: The IDF talks about their C-130J delivery schedule.
“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.”
Given the 2010 order, that’s a long delivery interval – but the explanation eventually becomes clear.
Dec 19/12: C-130H modernizations. Elbit Systems announces a contract to upgrade the Israeli Air Force’s older C-130H “Karnafs”. They won’t discuss amounts, and all they’ll say is that the project:
“…will extend the operational life of the aircraft and significantly improve… precision flying, low-level night flight and operations in adverse weather. The modernization will contribute to improved flight safety and reduce operating costs, by introducing cutting-edge digital systems to replace obsolete analog systems that have become unreliable and costly to maintain after four decades of intensive service with the IAF.”
This wording, and the accompanying picture, seem to translate as digital “glass” cockpits and HUDs from Elbit, improved weather and terrain-following radars, re-wiring, and some airframe refurbishment. A Sept 13/12 article in Flight International mentioned that Lockheed Martin had helped the IAF conduct fatigue tests, adding that the C-130Hs would receive “structural treatments.” Elbit Systems | Flight International.
Aug 28/12: Aviation Week discusses likely Israeli add-ins for its C-130J fleet, beyond defensive countermeasure systems:
“The Israelis are likely to add the “Toplite” stabilized electro-optical payload and night-vision capability, [a] data link, mission-planning and debriefing system, and a satellite communications terminal. Precision airdrop and autonomously guided parachute systems also are under evaluation.
The IAF is extending the life of its current fleet of Hercules tactical transports, aimed at keeping the aircraft in service for the next 15 years. The upgrade involves new avionics systems and a new center wing box, provided by Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bedek division.”
Feb 22/12: #3 bought. Israel buys the 3rd C-130J-30, exercising a maximum $58.3 million firm-fixed-price option, on top of previous planning and advance long lead procurement funding (vid. April 8/11).
Work will be performed in Marietta, GA, and expected to be complete by Nov 30/14. The ASC/WLNN at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH is Israel’s Foreign Military Sales agent for these buys (FA8625-11-C-6597, PO 0085).
3rd C-130J-30 bought
Jan 27/12: C-130H Modernization. Israel currently flies 11 C-130E/H transports, and 5 KC-130Hs with aerial refueling capability. C-130J orders are being placed slowly, which means they’ll need to maintain at least some of their existing fleet. Flight International writes:
“A programme to modify some of the current aircraft will begin soon, with Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bedek division to install replacement main wing boxes on part of the fleet. A source close to the programme said that some of the air force’s upgraded C-130E/Hs will remain in service, while some other E-model transports will be phased out.”
April 8/11: #2. Israel exercises a $76.2 million fixed-price not-to-exceed (NTE) options to buy a 2nd C-130J-30 aircraft, and begin planning and advance long lead procurement for the 3rd Israeli aircraft. Work will be performed by Lockheed Martin Corp. in Marietta, GA, and the 657th AESS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH manages the contract (FA8625-11-C-6597). A subsequent Lockheed Martin release says that Israel will receive its 1st C-130J-30 in spring 2013, with the next 2 delivered in late 2013 and late 2014, respectively.
This unfinalized contract also includes recurring in-line production modifications for the 2nd aircraft to include: Block 6X Operational Flight Program (DSCA cited Block 7.0, looks like Israel-specific mods); an enhanced service life wing; 2 embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation System Embedded Module IVs, with Precise Positioning System and GAS-1 controlled radiation pattern antenna; and a UARRSI receptacle on top of the plane to accept aerial refueling booms.
Baseline differences from the USAF HC-130J include the lack of a cargo handling system, no LAIRCM active missile decoying system, and no refueling pods to let the plane act as a refueler for helicopters and fighters. On the other hand, Israeli firms make local LAIRCM and refueling pod alternatives, so Israeli C-130J-30s might still have those capabilities by the time they enter service.
2nd C-130J-30 bought, some modifications detailed
2008 – 2011
9-plane request; 1st Israeli contract; US Special Forces HC-130J rolls out.
April 30/10: #1. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Marietta, GA receives a $98.6 million contract, to provide one C-130J aircraft for the government of Israel. The contract also includes additional non-developmental items for the aircraft, and $18.5 million of foreign military financing has been committed by the 657th AESS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8625-06-C-6456).
This order has been some time in negotiation, and follows a July 30/08 DSCA announcement that covered up to $1.9 billion for 9 stretched C-130J-30 aircraft, with Special Operations features.
Israeli C-130J-30 finalized, 1st ordered
April 19/10: HC-130J. Lockheed Martin rolls out the first US AFSOC HC-130J combat rescue tanker, at an official ceremony in Marietta, GA. The 563rd Rescue Group, based at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ and at Kirtland AFB, NM will be the first bases to receive the new model for training purposes once it has undergone initial testing, which typically takes about a year. Initial Operational Capability is slated for 2012.
The HC-130J, like all of the Special Forces C-130Js, uses a KC-130J tanker baseline. As a point of reference vis-a-vis Israel’s order, it adds the Enhanced Service Life Wing, Enhanced Cargo Handling System, a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (boom refueling receptacle), an electro-optical/infrared sensor, a combat systems operator station on the flight deck, and provisions for the large aircraft infrared countermeasures (LAIRCM) missile defense system. Lockheed Martin is currently contracted to build 21 HC/MC-130Js, and the USAF is currently authorized to buy up to 31 (11 HC-130J, 20 MC-130J). USAF | Lockheed Martin.
July 30/08: DSCA request. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Israel’s request to buy up to 9 stretched C-130J-30 aircraft, which will replace some of the aging C-130 aircraft that Israel made famous in its 1976 commando raid at Entebbe, Uganda. Appropriately, the new aircraft will also contain a number of features associated with the new HC/MC-130J Special Forces aircraft bought by the USA, and the Special Forces C-130J-30s bought by India.
The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, TX, and offset agreements are expected, but they will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and contractors. Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Israel involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, program management, and training over a period of up to 5 years. The estimated cost is up to $1.9 billion, and the exact items will include:
* 9 Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 United States Air Force (USAF) baseline aircraft including USAF baseline equipment and Block 7.0 Software. This implies the inclusion of engines, defensive equipment, etc.
* 6 Rolls Royce AE 2100D3 spare engines (implies 36 engines included in C-130J-30s)
* 9 of BAE’s AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (includes 3 spares)
* 9 of BAE’s AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers (includes 3 spares)
* 9 of ATK’s AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems (includes 3 spares)
* 9 of FLIR Systems’ AN/AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III Special Operations Suites (includes 3 spares). This is a day/night surveillance and laser targeting turret.
* 4 spare AN/ARC-210 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS)
* 10 spare Secure Voice Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency Radios
* 4 spare Secure Voice High Frequency Radios
* 3 spare AN/AAR-222 SINCGARS and Key Gen (KV-10) Systems
* 1 KIV-119 Non-standard Communication/COMSEC equipment
* 2 ARC-210 Non-standard Communication/COMSEC equipment
* 10 External Pylons and Fuel Tanks
* 5 Internal Israeli Tank Modification Kits
The contract also includes defensive equipment, spare and repair parts, configurations updates, communications security equipment and radios, integration studies, support equipment, aircraft ferry and tanker support, repair and return, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support.
The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, TX, and offset agreements are expected, but they will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and contractors. Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Israel involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, program management, and training over a period of up to 5 years.
DSCA request: 9 C-130J-30 special forces capable