SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //
Lockheed Martin delivered the State of Israel’s first C-130J Super Hercules airlifter during a ceremony on June 26 at its Aeronautics Company’s production facility in Marietta. This is first of three C-130Js currently on order for the Israeli Air Force (IAF), which has operated legacy C-130s since 1971.
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Maj. Gen. Yaacov Ayish, Israeli Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to the U.S. and Canada, and Aharon Marmarosh, director of Israel’s Ministry of Defense Mission to the United States, were present to receive the aircraft at the ceremony.
The IAF has bestowed the nickname “Shimshon” on its C-130Js – the term, Hebrew for “Samson,” hearkens to a judge and leader for the people of Israel. Samson’s mother called him Shimshon – which is derived from the Hebrew word for “sun” – because she felt he was destined to be as bright and mighty as the sun and would deliver the Jewish people from their enemies.
“Israel’s new C-130J builds on the tradition of its predecessors and offers the IAF unique capabilities that are not only proven, but without equal,” said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, C-130 programs at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. “With its glass cockpit and modern digital avionics, the C-130J has proven it performs in all environments: hot, cold, dirt and sand. Shimshon will serve the IAF as the C-130 always has – anywhere, anytime.”
Schultz also spoke about the history of the C-130 with the IAF, noting the famous mission in Entebbe, Uganda, when Israeli forces saved Jewish hostages.
“America celebrated its Bicentennial on July 4, 1976. Israel also celebrated that day; that morning, Israeli citizens learned the Israeli Defense Force had successfully carried out one of the most daring missions in history,” he said. “One-hundred and five Jewish people and Israeli citizens held hostage in Uganda by terrorists had been liberated. And they were coming home.”
Israel ordered its C-130Js through a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) contract with the U.S. government. Upon delivery, this aircraft will move into a modification program and receive Israeli-unique systems.
“Today is a great milestone in the Israel-U.S. military relationship,” said Opher Aviran, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast. “The production of the C-130J Super Hercules at Lockheed’s Marietta production facility is a prime example of the $3.1 billion of U.S. foreign aid to Israel being directly reinvested into the American economy.”
An in-country delivery for this C-130J is scheduled for spring 2014.
While Israel is the newest member of the C-130J worldwide operator family, this Super Hercules has the distinction of being one of 290 C-130Js that contributed to the worldwide fleet’s first 1 million flight hours. Shimshon’s test flight hours were included in this tally, which spans the C-130J’s first flight on April 5, 1996 through April 30, 2013.
C-130Js currently are deployed in two combat theaters, where they operate at a very high tempo efficiently and reliably.