A successful first flight test was recently completed for the C-130H HERCULES transport aircraft upgraded by Elbit Systems for the Israeli Air Force (IAF), under an agreement signed with the Israeli Ministry of Defense. This initial flight test was the first in a series of flight tests, and future flight tests were agreed upon and will be performed in the coming months.
During the flight tests, the aircraft's systems performance was tested in various modes of operation and in a variety of flight altitudes and conditions, in both day and night. The test demonstrated “out of the window” flight, in which live video was displayed on the head-up display (HUD), presenting flight and navigation data overlaying the real world by using two and three dimensional symbols, enhanced degraded visual landing applications and head tracking capabilities. Airborne refueling was also demonstrated as part of the flight tests.
The IAF pilots were impressed with the new capabilities, and the feedback was positive. They emphasised the contribution to flight safety of the new configuration and the enhanced situational awareness gained in different phases of the flight. They also noted the reduced workload and the improved cockpit communication due to flight in “head out” orientation.
The modernisation project, which began in 2012, extends the operational life of the aircraft and significantly improves its operational capability, particularly in precision flying, low-level night flight and operations in adverse weather. The modernisation not only contributes to improved flight safety but also reduces operating costs by introducing cutting-edge digital systems to replace obsolete analog systems that have become unreliable and costly to maintain after four decades of intensive service.