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 U.S. 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.
Israel began using the C-130 in 1971, and most of its current 22 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 44 years and spent 29,500 hours in the air. On average, C-130s last about 25 years, and about 20,000 hours in the air. The C-130 has been in service 51 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). But no other aircraft 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 50 countries.