Lockheed C130 Hercules

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Known in the IAF as "Karanf", the Lockheed C130 Hercules is a long range heavy duty multi-role transport airplane, and the IDF primary fixed wing transport platform.

The C130 roles in the IAF include midair refueling of airplanes and helicopters, evacuation, airdrop of personnel and materiel, observation, airborne command control and intelligence.

The C130 versatility are a result of its good performance and its ability to carry a relatively large payload while operating from short airstrips. Offloading supplies from the C130 is also easy and fast.

Dropping cargo.


The C130 development began shortly after the outbreak of Korea War. The US Air Force concluded that it needed an advanced transport airplane that could take large numbers of troops and vehicles to the front, and use short, unready runways for takeoff and landing.

Over the years, the C130 has been manufactured in over 100 different models, all of which share the same basic configuration.

Israeli Service

The IAF had shown interest in the C130 from the early 1960's, when it needed a more heavier and longer range transport airplane than the its Stratocruisers, Dakotas and Nords. However, purchase of the plane proved impossible at the time because of budgetary restraints, as well as the American administration's policy of not providing Israel with military equipment.

In the late 1960's the U.S. policy changed and it became possible to procure military airplanes. Accordingly, the first two C130 entered IAF service at October 1971. During The Yom Kippur War in October 1973, 12 additional C130 landed in Israel, as part of the American airlift to Israel. After the war, the IAF ordered additional C130H, which were delivered between May 1974 and November 1976, and included several KC-130H midair refueling models.

In the years following the war, the first 14 planes procured had undergone renovation and modification, upgrading them to the more advanced H model. The engines, which had proven weak and unreliable, were replaced and the avionics and cockpit were also much improved.

During its IAF service the C130 has taken part in numerous airborne long range SF operations, either as a gear and personnel transport airplane or as refueling platform for CH53 helicopters and is also the IDF main parachuting platform. The most famous operation involving the IAF C130 is "Operation Thunderbolt", the IDF hostage rescue raid in Entebbe, 1976.

Operational Capabilities

The Hercules C130 engines are mounted into the Hercules' straight wings, which come out of the top part of the fuselage. This design frees a lot of room in the plane's cargo bay, which enables the C130 to carry large cargos including vehicles. A special ramp at the rear of the Hercules facilitates quick offloading.

The cargo bay has room for over 90 operators and additional equipment. In an emergency evacuation, the C130 can carry over 70 stretchers, which are arranged in 3 rows, one above the other, along the airplane's length.

The C130 excels at landing on sandy surfaces and takeoff from short runways. This kind of takeoff utilizes rockets that are mounted on both sides of the airplane's fuselage and give the C130 an additional thrust at takeoff - comparable to that of an additional engine.

For long range missions, which require midair refueling of planes and helicopters the IAF employs the KC130H, which carries a large fuel tank in the cargo bay and can refuel two planes simultaneously. In certain situations, the airplane can function as an airborne gas station, hence as a relatively fixed point in the sky, to which all planes are directed for refueling on their way to a mission.

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