For the first time in 15 years, the Israel Air Force participated in the world’s largest military air show, sending a C-130J Super Hercules to the Royal International Air Tattoo Show in the United Kingdom.
Israel showcased its new generation “Samson” tactical transport plane alongside other C-130 variants from countries such as Pakistan and Qatar during the air show, which took place at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire in southwest England over the weekend.
According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit the IAF’s participation in the show marks the first time that a C-130J “Samson” ever landed on British soil.
The goal of the 40-person Israeli delegation participation in the air show “was to strengthen ties with Britain and other countries participating in the exhibition,” read a statement by the IDF, adding that representatives from Australia and France met with their Israeli counterparts during their time there.
Israel’s participation in the show showcased the Jewish State’s participation in humanitarian aid missions, of which the C-130J plays a key role.
“The goal is to strengthen a positive narrative about Israel in the world and to present our aid capabilities,” the statement read stating that to this end, a team from Unit 669 – the IAF’s elite extraction unit – showcased the unit’s search and rescue capabilities which have been used in Israel as well as in countries like Nepal and Turkey.
The IAF procured seven C-130J Super Hercules from American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, with the first delivered to the “Elephants” Squadron based at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel in April 2014.
The transport plane is able to fly over 4,000 kilometers and has cutting-edge technology such as an anti-missile system which along with the plane’s electronic warfare system can deploy flares upon detecting a missile allowing the plane to maneuver away from the threat.
In May two IAF pilots were sent to a military jail over a near-collision by two C-130J planes during Israel’s Independence Day flyover. During the investigation into the incident it was discovered that the pilots did not observe the rules of caution to keep a safe minimum distance in order to prevent any collision.
The prestigious three-day air show attracted more than 160,000 people and saw at least 246 aircraft from 26 countries take part, including Canada, France, Jordan, Germany, the United States, the Ukraine and Turkey.
While the world’s newest stealth fighter, the F-35, did not make an appearance at the show, a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber that was taking part in a 23-hour transatlantic training flight made a surprise flyby escorted by two F-15 fighters on Sunday.
The flyby of the Northrop Grumman bomber was part of the marking of the 70th anniversary of the formation of the US Air Force which also saw aerial displays by Thunderbirds and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters.
Israel’s participation in the air tattoo comes shortly after rescue teams from the British Army’s naval and air forces took part in a three-day joint emergency drill with their Israeli counterparts in the largest such exercise in 10 years.
During the drill, which took place several kilometers from Israel’s coast, pilots and soldiers from both countries practiced emergency rescue situations such as airlifting civilians trapped on ships in stormy weather.