Israel seeks Hercules planes in deal worth up to $1.9 billion

Nine brand-new C-130 J model transport aircraft would replace IAF's aging fleet.

hercules c-130 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
hercules c-130 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Pentagon notified Congress over the weekend of a possible $1.9 billion sale of nine brand-new C-130 J model Hercules transport aircraft to Israel. The new planes would be used to replace the Israeli Air Force's 35-year-old fleet of Herculeses, which as the longest-range aircraft in the IAF fleet are famous for delivering commandos to rescue hostages held by Palestinian terrorists in Entebbe in 1976. They also flew IDF humanitarian missions from Macedonia to Rwanda. The newest version of the Hercules, the "J" model, is externally similar to the classic Hercules but inside is a different aircraft, and includes new Rolls-Royce Allison AE21000 turboprops with six-bladed composite propellers and digital avionics including heads-up displays for the pilots. Congress will have several weeks to object to the sale, following which Israel will be permitted to place a final order. The notification to Congress by the Defense Department's Defense Security Cooperation Agency included nine aircraft, six spare engines, external fuel tanks for extended range, missile warning systems and several advanced communication devices. If all are ordered by Israel, the sale could reach as high as $1.9 billion, one of the greatest military purchases in Israeli history. Defense officials said, however, that Israel was likely to only order six aircraft in a first stage and would spread out their delivery over several years, for financing purposes. The principal contractor on the aircraft will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company.