TEL AVIV — The Israeli air force (IAF) is preparing to receive its first “stretched” Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 transport, designated “Samson” by the IAF, next spring.

Israel’s order originally was placed in April 2010. Two additional aircraft are also on order, to be delivered in 2014. Overall, the IAF plans to acquire nine C-130J-30s while modernizing its remaining C-130Hs.

The contract also covers a number of items to meet Israel’s unique operational requirements. A team of the IAF Hercules Wing—technicians, loadmasters, flight engineers, pilots and navigators—flew to Ramstein AB in Germany to get a closer look at the aircraft and learn about the process that U.S. Air Force units went through in transitioning from the C-130H to the J model.

When the C-130J arrives in Israel, aircrews will have to transition from a three-seat to a two-seat crew cockpit, since the C-130J has no flight engineer; for the U.S. Air Force, that job is taken over by the loadmaster, although in Israel the navigator could be assigned the role. The IAF plans to retain a third workstation in the cockpit for special missions.

The IAF’s new stretched Super Hercules features a longer fuselage than the regular C-130J. Israel’s aircraft are being modified during production, receiving an enhanced service life center wing and a universal aerial refueling receptacle slipway installation, supporting aerial refueling systems.

While the C-130Js destined for the IAF will not be equipped with the infrared countermeasures systems or refueling pods, these systems could be included in the special equipment provided locally by the IAF.

The Israelis are likely to add the “Toplite” stabilized electro-optical payload and night-vision capability, data link, mission-planning and debriefing system, and a satellite communications terminal. Precision airdrop and autonomously guided parachute systems also are under evaluation.

The IAF is extending the life of its current fleet of Hercules tactical transports, aimed at keeping the aircraft in service for the next 15 years. The upgrade involves new avionics systems and a new center wing box, provided by Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bedek division.