The IAF’s First “Hercules” Squadron Opens The IAF’s First “Hercules” Squadron Opens The IAF’s First “Hercules” Squadron Opens The IAF’s First “Hercules” Squadron Opens The IAF’s First “Hercules” Squadron Opens Two weeks ago, the official inauguration ceremony was held for the reopened “Elephants” squadron that will operate the new Hercules C-130J planes. The new transport planes will land in the Nevatim airbase next year and will join the IAF’s Heavy Transport Division. “The plane gives the force new capabilities and more possibilities”

Shani Pomes

The “Elephant” squadron, which will house the Hercules C-130J planes, officially reopened two weeks ago at a ceremony in Nevatim airbase. The squadron will be the first in the IAF to operate the advanced transport plane, which will land in Israel as early as next year. The inauguration was held in the presence of Nevatim Airbase Commander, Brigadier General Lihu Hacohen as well as former commanders of the squadron.

Until it closed, the “Elephants” squadron operated the predecessor of the Hercules C-130J, the Hercules C-130, which was flown for almost four decades. When the Hercules C-130J lands in Israel next April, it will be the fifteenth plane to be housed in the hangars of the squadron. “Today, we unfurl the flag after folding it more than five months ago. From today onwards, we are a squadron under one symbol and one direction”, said Lieutenant Colonel Uri, commander of the reopened squadron.

The Hercules C130-J is an advanced version of the Hercules C-130 plane that the “Yellow Birds” squadron currently operates, In June of 2013, the founding team of the squadron met for the first time, and as early as July, the first aircrews took off to the U.S. for the retraining process. The plane resembles the Hercules C-130, but it is wider, faster, and can carry more equipment. When the plane lands in Israel, it will be equipped with unique Israeli systems that will suit it to the force’s mission. “Much responsibility lies on your shoulders. The Hercules C-130J plane gives the force new capabilities and more possibilities”, said Airbase Commander, Brigadier General Lihu Hacohen, to the squadron personnel. “I am certain that the tests the State of Israel will have to face will demand the best of your abilities. There are many more tests that lie before you.”

Two weeks ago, a private ceremony was held for its soldiers, at the end of which, the soldiers were presented with the new “Elephants” squadron patch. The soldiers were awarded the patch, which has a white elephant with a black and red background, only after they passed a rite of passage.