Units slated to receive the advanced cargo planes recently visited a U.S. airbase, becoming acquainted with the aircraft
Earlier this month, members of the IAF's Hercules Formation flew to a U.S. airbase in Germany, in preparation for the arrival of the C-130J Super Hercules, the future cargo aircraft of the IAF. There, delegation members – including technicians, loading inspectors, and aerial teams – became acquainted with the advanced aircraft. The Hercules units joined a brief flight demonstrating the airplanes' capabilities. Unit members reported being very impressed with the large size of the C-130J, its aviation advantages, and the various technologies it encompassed.
"The point was to get familiar with the Shimshon that will arrive in Israel," Lt. Col. Eran explained, referring to the new aircraft by its Hebrew nickname. "We wanted to understand the transition process that the Americans have begun, for pilots, inspectors, and navigators."
The new Hercules is due to land in Israel in 2013. The IAF will use it as a cargo plane – a significant step forward over the earlier C-130H Hercules aircraft currently in use.
As expected with technological advancement, the way is paved with challenges. When the Super Hercules arrives in Israel, the IAF will have to transition to a two-seat cockpit, since the aircraft has no flight engineer. In the U.S. Military, for example, the problem was solved by assigning the loading inspector to 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 assigned to either the old or the new planes, rather than a single pilot flying both types.
If you ask Lt. Col. Eran's opinion, loading inspectors' work will not be drastically altered, and an inspector who has flown on C-130J in the morning will be able to join a night flight in the C130-H – a system that has not been adopted by the U.S. Air Force. "For the inspectors, the J-model is identical to the H-model, just with [extra] gadgets," he explained. "The new airplane can hold more equipment and people. It is longer and its systems are more advanced; any inspector who knows these details can manage the change."