Israel Air Force delegation returns from two-week drill in the U.S.

Troops from the 103rd Elephants Squadron trained on low-level flying with two Samson Hercules C-130J transport planes.

C-130J transport plane received by  Israel Air Force (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
C-130J transport plane received by Israel Air Force
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
An Israeli Air Force delegation from the 103rd Elephants Squadron has recently returned from two weeks of exercises at the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center (AATTC), its first time going there in over a decade.
Led by IAF Lt.-Col. Het, the delegation included 60 troops and two Samson Hercules C-130J transport planes.
The two-week long course saw the Israeli delegation start in St. Joseph, Missouri, where they studied subjects such as combat mission planning, communication, aircraft combat preparation, combat offloading and an intense mission planning cell.  The first week also saw the delegation carry out a flying sortie which trained the flight crew on defensive maneuvers and low level navigation.
The second week at Libby Army Airfield in Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, “was more challenging,” Het told The Jerusalem Post.  The week includes six sorties which saw the crews train on low-level navigation, dissimilar air combat training, hostile environment training, and a formation flight.
“The second week in Arizona was more challenging because of the topography; its harder to fly in the valleys and the mountainous environments,” he said, adding that “you don’t just fly in the area to just fly, you fly there to challenge yourself.”
According to Chet, while the delegation had planned to do two sorties in Missouri, only one was carried out due to freezing rain. But in Arizona, the team was able to do flights than had been originally planned.
“Every flight was challenging, but the most challenging flight was the last one where we had several targets over several hours,” he said, explaining that “some you get before, some you get in flight – and while you’re flying they change things, give obstacles and you have to be able to continue to your target without getting hit.
“At the end of the week you have to be able to bring everything together, but it’s a great time to have challenges when you’re flying; it’s challenging as a team.”
The last time the IAF trained at AATTC was in 2007 with the older Karnaf Hercules C-130HI aircraft. The just completed drill marked the first time that the Samson C-130J trained at the school, whose mission is to “increase the war fighting effectiveness and survivability of mobility forces,” according to its website.
“There are a lot of things that we learned there,” Chet said, explaining that the added benefit of being part of the school’s community is “always being connected to what is changing in the field” of air mobility.
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, and most recently in December.
The modern computerized aircraft is an improved version of the Karnaf, with enhanced capabilities and 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. It can also fly further than the Karnaf planes and can carry heavier loads in its multi-purpose cargo hold.
The transport plane is able to fly over 4,000 kilometers in one flight and can carry 94 paratroopers with their equipment, 128 soldiers or four military SUVs.
In July, the IAF participated in the Royal International Air Tattoo Show in the United Kingdom, sending its new generation C-130J Super Hercules Samson tactical tactical transport plane alongside other C-130 variants from countries such as Pakistan and Qatar.
According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that the IAF’s participation in the show marks the first time that a C-130J “Samson” ever landed on British soil and that 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.