Iran's march to the bombIsrael buys advanced commando transport

Published 19 May 2010

All of Iran’s nuclear weapons-related facilities can be destroyed from the air, but in some cases — for example, labs and design offices located in densely populated areas — special forces may be preferable in order to avoid civilian casualties; commandos would also be useful if leaders of the Iranian program — nuclear scientists and members of the Revolutionary Guard — were targeted for assassination in order to deal the Iranian program an even heavier blow; Israel buys an advanced version of the C-130J, which has been modified for special operation missions

The C-130J transport aircraft modified by Israel for special operations // Source:

Israel has signed a deal to buy an American stretched version of the C-130J transport, modified for special operations (commando) missions. This means the aircraft is equipped with night vision gear, more radios, radar warning equipment and counter-measures for anti-aircraft missiles. India and the United States are also buying this special operations model. Two years ago, Israel sought to buy nine of the latest model of the C-130, the C-130J. These would cost about $200 million each, and Israel eventually found they could not afford all of them right now.

Strategy Page reports that Israel began using the C-130 in 1971, and most of its current twenty-two C-130s are older models in need of replacement. C-130s can last a long time, as the Israelis are finding out. Budget problems have caused Israel to delay ordering more new C-130s. This is not a catastrophe. The oldest known C-130 served forty-four years and spent 29,500 hours in the air. On average, C-130s last about twenty-five years, and about 20,000 hours in the air. The C-130 has been in service fifty-one years. So far, 2,262 have been built, and it is still in production. That is unprecedented. Several other military aircraft remained in service over half a century (the British Canberra , B-52, the Russian Tu-95, AN-2, and the U.S. DC-3). No other aircraft, though, has remained in production for so long.

Originally, the C-130 was designed to carry 15 tons of cargo, 92 troops, or 64 paratroopers. The latest version, the C-130J, has a top speed of 644 kilometers, a range of over 12,000 kilometers, and can carry 20 tons of cargo. The C-130 is used by more than fifty countries.