Long Range Infiltrators
A critical component of Israel’s long term TEFEN procurement program in the air involves what most would consider a fairly unglamorous transport upgrade. The Hercules class transports are more often than not looked upon as standard equipment and troop movers, a role the Hercules has been playing in numerous air forces for decades now.
Israel’s original SuperHercules C-130j procurement deal initially started in 2008, when the US Congress was notified by the Pentagon of an impending sale for up to 9 specially designed transports. Back in 2008 deliveries were expected to begin around the 2012 time frame. Haaretz now reports that there is (unconfirmed) movement this week on the transport deal – with Defense Minister Ehud Barak & PM Netanyahu having met with US defense officials..
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel’s defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal.
According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes. The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million. The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel’s defense industry [...]
My understanding of these matters is that the Hercs would cost somewhat more, in the 100 million range mostly due to some serious upgrades above the Super Hercules’ already impressive renewed electrical & systems roster. The total package with optional aircraft over the multi-year deal was estimated to possibly reach 1.9 Billion dollars if all options were exercised.
Word was that we had asked Lockheed to equip the new Israeli transports with unique in flight air refueling capability to ‘extend their operational range’. This beyond the substantial modifications Israel has requested electronically to mate the transports with Israeli systems and electronic counter measures. These initial Hercs are clearly of the Special Operations variety designed for deep insertion & support roles for both men & matériel.
Drop & Mop
Israel has a long history of unique Hercules operational roles, the most famous being the Entebbe hostage rescue which saw Israel insert special forces all the way into Africa while taking over an international airport. If these reports are true, Israeli pressure to get this pre-Obama administration deal on track & moving would be a major coup and signal some cooperation between the IDF & Pentagon, as arms sales to Israel from the US have apparently been quite frozen on almost every level since Obama took office. Including helicopters, heavy ordinance JDAM bombs, electronics & reserve supplies of jet fuel for war contingencies.
Congress pledges support
Despite White House humiliation & Israeli arm twisting of late there is a tidal wave of congressional support to keep Israel on the cutting edge militarily, and supply us with assistance pledges built into the US Israel alliance. Just this week Nita Lowey, the powerful chairwoman of the US House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations who oversees the military & aid packages for Israel re-iterated solidly that whatever rifts may develop with the White House, the military aid would still be forthcoming..
“There is no question in my mind that the 10-year memorandum of understanding is solid,” Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the US House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said of the decade-long US aid plan under which $3 billion will be going to Israel this year. “There is strong bipartisan support for Israel in the Congress that will not falter.”
She said that continuing support is also in place when it comes to the US commitment to Israel maintaining a qualitative military edge over its Arab neighbors and other forms of military coordination.
“The military cooperation, the intelligence cooperation, the focus on Iran, is solid and strengthens every year,” said Lowey, who also sits on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees. [...]
With so much pressure coming out of the Obama admin these days, these displays of support & friendship are heartening to say the least. We require our ally’s help, SuperHercs & all.