For the first time since the Sikorsky CH-53 accident last summer, the Israeli Air Force has returned to train in Romania. Hercules squadrons flew over for a training session that was unique, challenging, and even exciting. We were in attendance as well
IAF Hercules squadrons took off for an intensive training session across Romania and through the Carpathian Mountains, where the accident occurred last summer.
“What happened last year, is that our friendship became kinship”, said General Alexander Glushka, Romanian Air Force Deputy Commander. “This collaboration is extremely important to us”.
For two weeks, the “Elephants” and “Yellow Bird” squadrons contended with Romania’s complicated topography and unstable weather, practicing mountain navigation and flying in crevices.
“The Hercules C-130 is an unusual plane in that sense”, explains Major Roey, Commander of the flight navigators in the “Elephants” squadron and head of the deployment. “When people think of transport planes, they usually conjure up images of Boeing planes, civilian air company, and passenger transport: all this with a high-class, comfortable flight, with newspapers and cups of coffee. But the Hercules was purposely built to be a tactical transport plane, meaning a plane that carries out navigations, can fly through unfriendly territories, and leads fighters”.
“We can’t stop practicing here”
As a result of the accident, the IAF decided not to send Sikorsky squadrons to Romania this year. That said, the dangers that lurk within the Carpathian Mountains for planes such as the Hercules should not be disregarded.
“Our understanding that the Hercules formation needs these unique practice sessions was developed through various special operations”, says Commander of the delegation, Lieutenant Colonel Yinon. “If you don’t practice a skill, you can’t develop it. And that’s the reason we can’t stop practicing here”, he stresses. “Romania is a country with greatly different topography than what Israel has to offer, and that’s why it’s a vast practice cushion for us”.
“There are more than a few skills that we can only practice here”, says Lieutenant Colonel Yinon. “The flying experience in Romania is significantly different from flying in Israel. Flying through high mountains is a necessary operational ability, because of the various different arenas in which we have to operate in order to protect our country. Rarely is there activity by the Israeli Air Force or the Israeli Defense Forces taking place in hostile territory that the Hercules C-130 is not a part of. In order to be able to operate in any place in the world, we have to be able to develop skills that we can’t practice in Israel”.